Waxman Scores Commerce Post

The first major battle within the Democratic House caucus appears to be over. Rep. Henry Waxman of California has won a caucus vote to become chairman of the powerful House Commerce Committee, unseating entrenched incumbent John Dingell of Michigan, the longest-serving current House member.

The Democratic caucus voted 137-122 in favor of Waxman.

Many broadcasters have been wary of a Waxman committee, fearing that he will more aggressive in regulations and investigations of the nation's most powerful industries.

Waxman has been chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the body's primary investigative arm. However, Waxman may have seen less appeal in investigating the new Obama Administration than in holding the Bush Administration's feet to the fire.

The House Commerce Committee includes the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet.

Dingell's lengthy tenure in the House has been defined by his aggressive work for the auto industry, until recent years fighting hard against safety, fuel efficiency, and environmental regulations.

In hearings, Dingell has been known for peppering witnesses with rapid-fire yes-or-no questions on complex policy issues.

In contrast to that style, when asked by TV Technology earlier this year about an ad Dingell appeared in on behalf of EchoStar, in which he erroneously said that all stations would be abandoning analog transmissions in 2009, his staff offered only an evasive answer. That ad angered Low-Power TV broadcasters, who are not ending analog.