Commerce Committee: Waxman Challenging Dingell

Capitol Hill newspapers are reporting after Election Day that Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., plans to challenge Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., for the top post on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. The committee includes the Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass.

National Journal said Waxman confirmed the reports. The publication also said Waxman faced an uphill battle.

Waxman, currently a member of the committee and chairman of its Oversight and Government Reform panel, is best known as an aggressive investigator of alleged Bush Administration wrongdoing.

Dingell who entered the Congress in 1955, is its longest-serving member. He chaired the Commerce Committee from 1981 until 1995, and again since the Democrats recovered the House after the 2006 elections. His trademark style on the panel involves peppering witnesses with demands for quick, brief yes-or-no answers to questions on complex policy matters.

Roll Call's Congress.orgranked Dingell as the fourth most powerful member of Congress after Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y. Waxman is known to be close to Pelosi, a fellow northern Californian.

Roll Call writes: :The move marks a major showdown between two Democratic powerhouses, with implications for a host of major legislation next year from health care to global warming to renewable energy."