Pelosi Sees No Drama in Panel Assignments

Posted November 21, 2008 at 12:03pm

One day after the toppling of a veteran committee chairman, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Friday that she did not expect anything out of the ordinary when making changes at other committees.

Democrats voted Thursday to replace Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) with Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), a move that dented the seniority system.

“I don’t know that anything would be outside the regular order,” Pelosi said when asked who would replace Waxman. “We’re just getting used to the idea of what happened yesterday.”

If rules of seniority are followed, Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) will step up as Government Oversight and Reform chairman.

Pelosi said she also planned to renew the Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee for the 111th Congress. She created the committee two years ago and lamented that Democrats haven’t been able to advance climate change legislation.

“I think we do have need for one more term because our work is not finished,” she said.

On another front, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) later today will send a letter to the Big Three auto manufacturers outlining the criteria the companies must meet to receive an emergency cash infusion from the government.

The letter comes as Congress closes the chapter on a lame-duck session that Democrats had hoped to use to advance a $25 billion auto rescue package, which never happened. Democratic leaders are now looking at the week of Dec. 8 to revisit the issue.

Congressional leaders are requiring car manufacturers to submit their plans to Congress by Dec. 2. To receive aid, the companies must agree to restrictions, including slashing bonuses for people making more than $200,000 and outlining how they will invest in advanced technologies.

If party leaders aren’t happy with the plans submitted, a senior House Democratic aide said, party leaders will most likely head into a December session as planned but just “give a little money” to help stabilize the companies until January, when lawmakers will come back and revisit the issue.