Outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Friday which lawmakers would serve as ranking Democrats on House committees which will be dominated by Republicans once the new Congress opens in January.
Many of the picks are not surprises, as a number are those who have chaired their panels when Democrats ruled the House, including Reps. George Miller of California on the Education and Labor Committee and John Conyers of Michigan on Judiciary.
However, Pelosi says Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland beat out Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York to serve as the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
“Our Democratic Ranking Members stand ready to continue creating jobs and fighting for the middle class in the 112th Congress,” says Pelosi, who herself will continue to lead Democrats in the minority after she turns the speaker’s gavel over to GOP Speaker-designate John Boehner. “Each of these distinguished Members brings to the table extensive experience and great intellect to work with the new Republican committee chairmen on behalf of the American people.”
Cummings won the Oversight job despite the National Organization of Women (NOW) and other women’s groups throwing their weight behind Maloney for the job. Maloney had been ahead of Cummings in seniority on the oversight panel.
Cummings likely will have his work cut out for him, as he will be expected to lead defensive action against incoming Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). As chairman, Issa will be armed with subpoena power. Called the “annoyer in chief” of President Obama, Issa has promised vigorous oversight of the Democratic White House and executive branch that could lead to partisan hunts against the president and his team.
Even before ascending to his chairmanship, Issa already has taken the administration to task for such actions as trying to clear the fields in Senate races this year in Colorado and Pennsylvania in attempts to protect Democratic incumbents.
The full list of ranking Democrats, as approved by House Democrats, is:
•Agriculture Committee – Collin Peterson of Minnesota
•Armed Services Committee – Adam Smith of Washington
•Education and Labor Committee – George Miller of California
•Foreign Affairs Committee – Howard Berman of California
•Committee on Homeland Security – Bennie Thompson of Mississippi
•Judiciary Committee – John Conyers of Michigan
•Natural Resources Committee – Edward Markey of Massachusetts
•Committee on Oversight and Government Reform – Elijah Cummings of Maryland
•Science and Technology Committee – Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas
•Small Business Committee – Nydia Velazquez of New York
•Transportation and Infrastructure Committee – Nick Rahall of West Virginia
•Veterans’ Affairs Committee – Bob Filner of California
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.