DeFazio was considered the favorite for the post, as he’s now the committee’s most senior Democrat. But the 16 "yeas" Grijalva grabbed put him above a threshold that triggers a full caucus vote, spokesman Adam Sarvana told The Hill in an email.
Had Grijalva failed to get 14 votes, Sarvana explained, DeFazio would have been awarded the position outright.
The panel has oversight over the Interior Department, which has made it host to frequent clashes between Republicans and Democrats over Obama administration drilling and other energy policies.
— This story was last updated at 11:38 a.m. on July 18.