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Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.)

Pallone seeks top Democrat spot on House's Energy and Commerce Committee

By Jessica Zigmond
Posted: February 4, 2014 - 2:00 pm ET

The ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee has his sights set on becoming the leading Democrat for the powerful committee in the next Congress.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) announced Monday that he hopes to follow in the footsteps of his friend and mentor, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who announced last week that he would retire after his current term expires. Waxman, the committee's ranking member, played a key role in crafting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as its chairman before Republicans took back the House in 2010. By the time Waxman leaves, he will have served in Congress for 40 years.

Pallone, meanwhile, has been an outspoken defender of the healthcare law. During an October hearing called by Republicans to explore glitches with, he derided the proceedings as a “monkey court.”

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In a news release, Pallone said he began calling his House colleagues to let them know of his intentions after Waxman made his plans known. “As the person tasked with developing the Democratic caucus' message on the House floor, I believe I would be the most effective voice to lead the committee toward a successful future,” Pallone said in the release.

Pallone will have some competition in his bid for the top Democrat spot at Energy and Commerce. Also Monday, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.)—who represents Silicon Valley in California's 18th district—announced she is seeking the same position. Eshoo serves as the ranking member on the Communications and Technology Subcommittee at Energy and Commerce.

“I look forward to communicating with my colleagues in the weeks ahead to share my vision and hear theirs,” Eshoo said in her announcement. “We have the depth and talent to shape policies that will build a strong economy for every American, with an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to advanced research, communications, technology, healthcare, energy and the environment.”

Elections for leadership and committee posts will take place within the Democratic caucus after the November elections and before the next Congress is sworn in early next year.

Follow Jessica Zigmond on Twitter: @MHjzigmond

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