Pitts, Burgess named at top of E&C health panel

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman-in-waiting of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, announced on Thursday the chairmen and vice-chairmen on his committee.

As predicted, abortion-rights foe Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) got the chairmanship of the health subcommittee in a sop to conservatives who bitterly opposed Upton because he has not supported efforts to enact parental notification laws, to defund embryonic stem cell research or oppose "partial-birth" abortion. In addition, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), an obstetrician, will serve as vice-chairman of the subpanel.

Upton also announced that Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) will serve as the committee's chairman emeritus, and Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.) will serve as the Committee's vice chairwoman.

Upton said in a Hill blog post Monday that "our top priority in the new Congress will be repealing the job-killing health care law."

Meanwhile, the Democratic caucus voted Thursday to keep Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) as the top Democrat on the panel in the next Congress.