Waxman expects stalemate under GOP-ruled Energy and Commerce

Waxman predicted Republican efforts to block EPA from issuing climate change regulations will be stymied, while indicating the possibility for compromise on efforts to repeal part of the new healthcare reform law, specifically the provision that imposes new tax-filing requirements on small businesses.

Leading Republican candidates to head Energy and Commerce in the next Congress, as well as a chief Democratic architect of the healthcare law — Senate Finance Chairman Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusBernie Sanders flexes power on single-payer ObamaCare architect supports single-payer system Trump has yet to travel west as president MORE (Mont.) — have all pledged to try to repeal Section 1099. Baucus on Friday issued a statement saying the provision, which requires businesses to report more purchases to the IRS, will impose undue paperwork burdens on companies amid an economic downtown when they can least afford it.

“I would want to look at what they are suggesting,” Waxman said. 

Section 1099 “may be overly broad but it was a way to make sure that we were getting the information from people who might otherwise fail to live up to the overall purposes of the law,” he said.

“I’m open to talking about any ideas they have and to see if there’s a possibility for compromise,” Waxman added.

The Republican chairman of the panel is not known yet and probably won’t be made official until after Thanksgiving.

The leading candidate is Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), while Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) is considered a dark horse. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) is also making a bid to head the panel, but is not being seriously vetted. 

Energy and Commerce ranking member Joe Barton (R-Texas) is hoping to receive a term-limit waiver — or have the House GOP steering committee determine he does not even need one — in order to lead Republicans on the panel for another two years. 

Waxman said he has a clear preference.

“I think the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee should be Henry Waxman,” the California Democrat joked. “By far he has the best credentials, has the sharpest mind that can smooth things over on a bipartisan basis.”

“But the thing about this guy Waxman, this election humbled him,” he added. “But I’ve been humbled before so I feel like I’m being re-humbled.”

Turning serious for a moment, Waxman noted, “Whoever they pick I hope to work with on a professional basis and to help our committee run as smoothly as possible.”

“The chairman will set the agenda I’ll try to influence on ways we can work together and where we can’t,” he added.

He deferred to Republicans on whether the panel should investigate the science behind climate change, possibly less than two years after the House approved a first-time mandatory greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program that Waxman helped spearhead. “Well it’s up to them. If they think that’s worth exploring and having hearings, that’s what they’ll do,” he said.