Pelosi Buries Hatchet, Throws Party for Dingell

Despite previous clashes--and speculation that she supported his replacement as head of the Energy and Commerce Committee--House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will host a reception at the Capitol next Tuesday honoring Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) as the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives.

"John Dingell is a giant of the Congress. Over his 53 years in the House, on issues from health care to the environment, to protecting the rights of workers and consumers, Chairman Dingell has been a leader in fighting for the American values we cherish. I am proud to work alongside such a dedicated public servant, the Dean of the House," Pelosi said today in a statement announcing the reception.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), a fellow Californian and ally of Pelosi on environmental issues, wrested the chairman's gavel from Dingell before the start of the 111th Congress in a power play that many speculated carried Pelosi's approval. Pelosi remained publicly neutral in the fight.

House Democrats voted 137-122 for Waxman in a secret ballot Nov. 20 after the Pelosi-led Democratic Steering and Policy Committee voted to support Waxman, also by secret ballot.

Pelosi and Dingell have previously clashed over environmental issues, and Pelosi backed a primary opponent of Dingell in 2002.

The day after the reception, Dingell will reach his 19,420th day serving in the lower chamber, eclipsing Rep. Jamie Whitten's (D-Miss.) record to become the longest-serving member in the history of the House.

"Deborah and I are honored that the Speaker would put together an event like this. This is a very warm gesture and we look forward to celebrating with her,