Updated: 4:53 p.m.
Rep. Elijah Cummings beat out Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) in the first vote to decide the ranking member position on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the 112th Congress.
The Democratic Steering and Policy Committee voted 33-18 Thursday to back the Marylander, who is the third-ranking member of the panel, leapfrogging Maloney, the No. 2 ranking member on the panel. The full Democratic Caucus still has to approve the Steering Committee recommendation for the high-profile position, and it is expected to vote Thursday afternoon.
A Maloney spokesman said she would challenge the steering committee recommendation in the full Caucus.
Cummings was widely seen as the favored choice by Democratic leadership and the White House to stand up to Chairman-designate Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).
He had the support of fellow Marylanders Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Rep. Chris Van Hollen. “I thought you did well,” Hoyer told Cummings as he patted his colleague on the back as the two were leaving Thursday’s Steering meeting after his presentation.
Cummings has said he would make sure that Issa does not go on “fishing expeditions” to try to embarrass Democrats.
“We’ll go toe to toe on everything and hopefully be 10 steps ahead,” he said Wednesday.
The late-breaking battle between Cummings and Maloney emerged after Rep. Edolphus Towns (N.Y.) suddenly decided to abort his plan to remain as the top Democrat on the panel. The race fractured the Democratic Caucus, with Congressional Black Caucus members — who support the seniority system — splitting on whether to support Cummings, a former CBC chairman. For example, Towns threw his support behind Maloney because of her seniority on the panel.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), who ranks behind Cummings on the panel, had previously announced his intention to challenge Towns for the post. But on Tuesday, he announced his support for Cummings.
Kathleen Hunter contributed to this report.