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Maloney wins vote for Oversight chairwoman

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) is on track to become the next House Oversight and Reform Committee chairwoman after winning the recommendation of her colleagues on Tuesday.
 
Maloney has served as acting chairwoman for the past month after former committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) died Oct. 17.
 
The House Democratic Steering Committee, which makes recommendations for members’ committee slots, voted 35-17 on a second ballot in favor of Maloney over Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), according to sources in the room.
 
The full House Democratic Caucus will vote Wednesday to ratify the Steering Committee’s recommendation. 

Assuming the Democratic caucus affirms the Steering Committee’s recommendation, Maloney will be the first woman to chair the powerful committee.
 
Maloney, Connolly and Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) were all running for the post, but no one secured a majority on the first ballot in Steering on Tuesday.
 
The first ballot resulted in 26 votes for Maloney, 15 for Connolly, 10 for Lynch, one for Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) – who withdrew her candidacy for the post – and one spoiled ballot.
 
Maloney previously tried to run for the top Democrat slot on the Oversight Committee in December 2010. But Cummings, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), defeated her for the post even though Maloney ranked higher in seniority.

But on Tuesday, Maloney’s seniority carried the day over Connolly and Lynch as Democrats sought to avoid an ugly fight over a key committee post in the midst of the impeachment inquiry.

Before Cummings’s death, Maloney had not been a central figure in Democrats’ impeachment inquiry and was less of a presence on cable news. She was best known for her work on legislation ensuring health benefits for 9/11 first responders and for women’s issues like the Equal Rights Amendment and pushing for a women’s history museum on the National Mall. 

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Maloney automatically assumed the role of acting chairwoman after Cummings’s death due to House rules that the member ranking highest in seniority temporarily fills vacancies at the top of committees.

Since she became acting chair, Maloney has been signing off on joint statements and attending joint press conferences about the impeachment inquiry with the chairmen of other investigative committees.

Maloney taking the committee gavel would also mean that the House committee leaders at the forefront of the impeachment inquiry – Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (Calif.), Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (N.Y.) and Jerry Nadler (N.Y.) – are not all white men. She will, however, be yet another New Yorker among the ranks.

Two other CBC members on the Oversight Committee – Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) – had been floated as potential candidates for the chairmanship. But neither ultimately ran for the post, in line with the CBC’s tendency to defer to the seniority system to reward its members’ longevity.

Maloney, 73, has represented a Manhattan-area district since 1993.

 
Scott Wong contributed.

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