Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman has been coveting Energy Committee Chairman John Dingell’s job for, well, decades. But never before has Waxman so directly challenged Dingell – who has sat atop the committee for 28 years – so directly.
It’s hard to believe Waxman would make this bid without the support of Speaker Pelosi, a fellow Californian who tried quasi-successfully, to do an end run of her own around Dingell when she created the Special Committee on Global Warming – an issue that normally falls within the purview of the Detroit-loving Dingell’s committee.
While Obama hasn’t weighed in yet on the challenge, it’s interesting to note that his top congressional liaison is Phil Schiliro, until recently Waxman’s long-time chief-of-staff. Obama’s ambitious Green Jobs program — a top priority — is inline with the bill Dingell dropped last month that proposes reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. But environmentalists accuse Dingell of protecting the big three automakers at the expense of higher fuel economy standards and some liberal Dems say he would stand in the way of the kind of sweeping legislation Obama is envisioning. As Marty Nesbitt, one of Obama’s best friends, once told me, when the president-elect finds someone isn’t playing up to his game on the basketball court he doesn’t pitch a fit or yell. “He strategically figures out how not to get you the ball without hurting your feelings,” Nesbitt said.