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Waxman-dingell: The End Is Nigh

House Democrats are likely to vote this week on whether John Dingell or Henry Waxman should chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee. We've covered this dispute here and here, but here are two more links for junkies: First, Politico has a good piece today on how both congressmen have tried to cultivate their younger and more vulnerable colleagues. On the surface, it looks like Dingell's done a more thorough job of it, giving nearly five times as much to the DCCC and tossing more money at Democrats in competitive districts. But Waxman helped fund a number of Democratic challengers in October who ended up winning their seats, which could turn out to be a shrewd investment.

The other story is here, and it's really more of a substantive argument. Robert Sussman, a former EPA official who's now helping Barack Obama with the transitional planning for that agency, has an op-ed at ThinkProgress critiquing the draft climate legislation Dingell released last month. In short, Sussman concedes that the bill has good long-term targets—aiming for an 80 percent reduction of CO2 emissions by 2050, in line with what many climatologists recommend—but has flimsy targets in the short term, just a 5 percent cut by 2020, compared with Waxman's proposal for 20 percent. (There's also a question about whether the Dingell-Boucher bill waits too long before auctioning off pollution permits.) It's reasonable to argue that the short-term goals in any climate bill are most critical, since any long-term target 40 years out will almost surely be revised as the state of climate science keeps improving. But the longer we hold off on immediate reductions, the more difficult they'll be decades hence.

Anyway, it's possible that onlookers are reading too much into the fact that one of Obama's transition guys has now criticized Dingell's approach to global warming, while Obama's new congressional liaison in the White House is Phil Schiliro, none other than Waxman's former chief of staff—but, then again, maybe not.

--Bradford Plumer