The Democrats’ gains in Congress have begun a shuffling of committee leaders. Changes could affect panels that oversee broadcast issues.
Roll Call reported that California Democrat Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform panel, wants to chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee, now led by Michigan Democrat John Dingell.
Dingell is fighting back, according to this account, which reports the maneuvering has supporters on both sides working the phones.
The rift comes as the Commerce Committee prepares to tackle an ambitious agenda in concert with President-elect Barack Obama including health care and climate change.
Committee leadership changes are also going on in the Senate, though less visibly.
Roll Call reports that Democratic leaders have been deciding whether to replace West Virginia’s Robert Byrd as chairman of Senate Appropriations. The ailing 90-year-old could become chairman emeritus. Byrd would likely be replaced by the next-most-senior member of Appropriations, 84-year-old Democrat Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, who’s now chairman of the Commerce Committee.
Politico subsequently reported Friday that had Byrd agreed to give up his chairmanship voluntarily and that the changeover to Inouye as appropriations chairman is planned for Jan. 6.
If Inouye takes Appropriations, Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) would likely take over as Commerce, which has jurisdiction over communications.