Under terms announced Thursday, Michigan Rep. John D. Dingell will take the lead on all major health care initiatives before the committee in the next Congress and have a say in personnel matters as part of an agreement worked out with his successor. [...] By granting Dingell a role as “the lead sponsor” of whatever national health care legislation the committee considers, Waxman is giving the Dean of the House the chance to cap his historic career by realizing his father’s goal of universal health care coverage – Dingell’s father, a former House member, first introduced legislation creating national health insurance in 1943.
“I intend to be an active and enthusiastic leader on the Committee and I appreciate the efforts of Chairman Waxman to partner with me as we move into the 111th Congress,” Dingell said in the release. “Henry and I have been able to work together in the past and agreed on most issues, and even in areas where we have disagreed, together we have passed important legislation.”
The crux of the Dingell-Waxman fight for control of the House Energy and Commerce committee was climate change, where Dingell’s views are decidedly unprogressive. But the committee has extremely broad jurisdiction, including a substantial role in health care, and Dingell is a strong progressive voice on that issue. This will let Dingell end his career with dignity and, hopefully, end it by playing a major role in the sort of successful reform effort that the Dingells have been calling for for decades.