House government reform subcommittee assignments nearly complete

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., is nearing a final decision on his appointment of subcommittee chairmen, with the liberal firebrand and presidential candidate, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, now likely to take the helm of the new Domestic Policy Subcommittee.

"I have a pretty good idea of who's going to get what," Waxman said of the five subcommittee chairmanships. He declined to be specific, saying he will make his decision once his full committee roster is completed next week.

Kucinich, among Capitol Hill's most outspoken critics of President Bush and the war in Iraq, had been ranking member of the National Security Subcommittee in the last legislative session. As the panel's presumed chairman in the Democratic-led 110th Congress, he had a ready platform to advance his antiwar agenda.

But Kucinich said in a brief interview that he might wield more influence as chairman of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee, which will have jurisdiction over all domestic issues and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

"I'm likely to have my top pick," said Kucinich, who noted that some Democrats ahead of him in seniority are taking leadership posts on other standing committees.

"Domestic policy could end up having the most influence of any committee [because] it has oversight of all domestic policy in the U.S," he said, adding that Waxman "made clear that he's going to use the full committee" to address foreign policy issues.

Among those with more seniority, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., is opting to lead the House Transportation and Infrastructure Coast Guard Subcommittee.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., who ranks ahead of both Cummings and Kucinich on Oversight and Government Reform, will be chairwoman of the Financial Services Financial Institutions Subcommittee.

Besides Kucinich, Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., said he is likely to become an Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee chairman. He said he expects to take over the Federal Workforce Subcommittee, where he was ranking member in the 109th Congress.

Davis, who noted that some of his colleagues are still considering their options, said "it's difficult to know how it's all going to shake out."

Waxman's new lineup eliminates the Energy and Resources and the Regulatory Affairs subcommittees. Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif., who served as the ranking member of the Energy and Resources Subcommittee, said she expects to be on the Domestic Policy Subcommittee this year. Rep. Stephen Lynch, formerly ranking member on the Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee, said he is still considering assignments.

Waxman said five vacancies remain on the full committee, which at least seven previously elected members are seeking to fill by obtaining waivers. They include Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., who both were on the committee last year. Also vying to get on the committee are Reps. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., Betty McCollum, D-Minn., Gwen Moore, D-Wis., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.

Once all the members are in place, Waxman said he will convene the full panel to nominate the subcommittee chairmen.

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