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House Democrats launch process to replace Cummings on Oversight panel

A key Democratic committee will meet next month to start the formal process of replacing the late Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) at the helm of the Oversight and Reform Committee.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in a letter to Democrats dated Tuesday, announced that the party’s Steering and Policy Committee will meet on Nov. 12 to consider the nominations of those vying to fill the seat, which became vacant following Cummings’s death on Oct. 17.

The co-chairs of the Steering and Policy Committee — Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) — also signed the letter.

Pelosi had privately sought to discourage an internal fight for the Oversight gavel — a seat that’s taken on outsized significance since the committee is a central player in the fast-moving impeachment investigation into President Trump.

She tapped Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), the most senior member of the panel, to be its acting chairwoman following Cummings’s death.

But a number of senior committee members had other ideas, and the list of interested members already includes Reps. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Jackie Speier (D-Calif.).

Some freshmen members of the Oversight Committee are also trying to recruit Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) for the post. But Raskin, a sophomore, would have to hop over a slew of more senior members of the seat, making him a long shot.

The Steering and Policy Committee is closely aligned with Pelosi, but the panel’s word is not final. In 2014, the panel favored Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) over Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) to become senior Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Pallone, however, prevailed in a vote of the full caucus and now holds the Energy and Commerce gavel.

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