Democratic Panel Supports Nadler for Top Spot on Judiciary

Full Democratic caucus votes on Wednesday

The Democratic Steering Committee has recommended Rep. Jerrold Nadler be the next top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

An influential group of House Democrats voted Tuesday to formally recommend Rep. Jerrold Nadler as the next ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, a high-profile post that could become even more pivotal after the 2018 elections.

The Democratic Steering and Policy Committee sided 41-18 for Nadler over Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California. Their recommendation goes to a vote Wednesday before the full Democratic Caucus, which does not have to follow the steering committee’s recommendation.

“I hope I win tomorrow,” Nadler said as he left the committee meeting.

Nadler and Lofgren both made pitches to the committee and have plenty of experience on the issues before Judiciary, including oversight of the Justice Department and the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 elections, as well as threats to civil rights, immigration and intellectual property.

If Democrats take control of the House after the midterm elections, the ranking member would take the chairman’s gavel and lead any potential impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

Nadler took over as top Democrat at the committee when Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan stepped aside in November amid reports of sexually inappropriate behavior. Conyers, a former Judiciary chairman and dean of the House, resigned earlier this month.

Nadler, first elected in 1992, staked out ground as a political scrapper with solid policy experience and a history of standing up to Trump. He has been among the Democrats pressing for House votes this year aimed at getting Republicans on the record about Trump’s tax returns.

Lofgren, first elected in 1994 and a former Judiciary staffer when the committee considered impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon, emphasized the experience she would bring to immigration, technology and constitutional issues.

Both lawmakers are well-respected in the Democratic caucus and some expected the tally to be closer. Some lawmakers point to the Democrats’ rules on seniority as an important factor in the race.

There are other considerations for Democrats, too. Lofgren could be seen as a better messenger when it comes to airing accusations of Trump’s inappropriate behavior with women in a way that would help Democratic congressional candidates in 2018.

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