(PROSPECT.ORG) – Committee assignments are one of the least eye-catching parts of politics, but they’re also one of the most important ways in which actual political power is wielded. Certain committees in the House, like Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Appropriations, have outsized influence and money power. (They are often called the “money” committees, not just because they’re where the action is but because members can earn lots of money in campaign contributions from industries with business before them.)
Deliberations over the next several days will be extremely important for progressives in the House, as they angle to lock down seats on these powerful committees for their members. To that end, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was expected to secure a prized position on the Energy and Commerce Committee, a seat vacated by outgoing New Yorker Eliot Engel. Among other issues, the committee has jurisdiction over health care and climate change issues, a natural for a congresswoman who has championed Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.
Ocasio-Cortez was expected to cruise comfortably to the position. She was the first to raise her hand for the seat, and she won the backing of dean of the New York delegation Rep. Jerry Nadler. But last week, as Politico reported, Long Islander Kathleen Rice made an out-of-nowhere, last-second bid for the seat, interrupting the process. Rep. Rice is a backbencher from the party’s right flank who, in 2018, refused to support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker. Without the support of Nadler, and with the famous opposition of Steering Committee leader Pelosi, Rice’s attempt didn’t seem to be serious.
Advertisement - story continues below