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House Dems to Choose Panel Leader      11/19 06:14

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- As impeachment hearings resume on Capitol Hill, House 
Democrats are preparing to choose who will lead the powerful Oversight and 
Reform Committee --- a key role in the ongoing impeachment inquiry of President 
Donald Trump.

   Three veteran lawmakers, including Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, the 
acting chairwoman, are seeking to replace the late Rep. Elijah Cummings of 
Maryland, who died last month.

   Reps. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts and Gerry Connolly of Virginia also are 
seeking the post.

   The House Democratic Steering Committee will make a recommendation on 
Tuesday, with the full Democratic caucus set to vote Wednesday.

   The committee has a broad portfolio, including oversight of the Trump 
administration's handling of the census and immigration matters, as well as 
investigations into Trump's business dealings and security clearances granted 
to White House officials.

   Oversight also is one of three committees that have been leading the 
impeachment inquiry, although the most visible leader remains House 
Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff of California.

   Maloney, who lost out to Cummings as the committee's top Democrat nearly a 
decade ago, is seen as the front-runner. The panel's longest-serving Democrat, 
Maloney has led the committee on an acting basis since Cummings' Oct. 17 death 
and has won endorsements from the next two longest-serving Democrats, 
Washington, D.C., Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Rep. William Lacy Clay of 
Missouri.

   Maloney, 73, is in her 14th term representing a district that includes much 
of Manhattan, including Trump Tower.

   She declined to be interviewed, but said in a statement that she is "focused 
on discussing the chairmanship directly with my colleagues."

   Connolly, 69, in his sixth term representing Northern Virginia, said he has 
"substantial support" for the chairman's post "and it's growing.''

   In a letter hand-delivered to House colleagues, Connolly said the Oversight 
election "is not a business as usual decision. The American people must see the 
main investigative body of Congress as a force for accountability that upholds 
our constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the executive. That was the 
legacy left by Elijah Cummings. That is the work that must continue.''

   Connolly, an outspoken Trump critic, said in an interview that Democrats 
"need to put the most capable team on the field we can,'' adding that he has "a 
demonstrated ability to lead, a firm commitment" to Oversight and experience as 
the chairman of the subcommittee on government operations.

   Lynch, 64, in his 10th term representing suburban Boston, said he hopes to 
continue the work begun by Cummings and is "ready and eager to protect and 
defend the Constitution and the rule of law."

   Lynch acknowledged in an interview that he faces an "uphill battle" against 
Maloney's seniority, but pointed out that he has served on the committee for 18 
years and chairs the subcommittee on national security.

   Maloney, who has served on Oversight since 1993, is best known for her years 
of advocacy for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and famously wore a New 
York firefighter's jacket at the Capitol and even at the Met Gala until she 
could secure permanent authorization for a victims' fund. A measure making the 
9/11 fund permanent was a rare example of a bipartisan bill signed into law 
earlier this year.

   Maloney also serves on the House Financial Services Committee, reflecting 
the importance of the financial industry in her district. She was a key sponsor 
of a corporate transparency bill approved by the House last month. Maloney has 
agreed to give up her role leading a subcommittee on investor protection and 
capital markets if elected to head Oversight.


(KR)

 
 
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