Henry Waxman has defeated John Dingell, the dean of the House, in his bid to take over a key committee overseeing environmental policy. The narrow margin yesterday on the Steering Committee — which is packed with liberals and Pelosi loyalists — gave some Dingell supporters hope their man would hang on to his gavel. But the vote in the full caucus was 137 to 122 for Waxman. This isn’t the first time liberals have targeted Dingell, who has served in Congress since the 1950s after succeding his father, but it’s the first time they’ve won.
Although Dingell himself had become more liberal on climate change legislation in recent years, reflecting the direction of his party, this is pretty big in terms of policy implications. Waxman champions much tougher emissions standards and is in favor of a much heavier handed cap-and-trade approach. Dingell is more sympathetic to the auto industry’s interests. Make no mistake: this is a shift to the left and much more consequential than the Joe Lieberman vote in the Senate.
UPDATE: As the charming Jane Hamsher puts it, “Blue Dogs Get Spanked.”