Levin, who stepped in to lead the committee in March when Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) left the helm under an ethics cloud, said he was one vote away from a tie because a supporter missed the steering panel's vote.
"I have been an effective chair this year, and I believe I am the best person to meet the challenges our caucus faces in the 112th Congress," he said in a letter tonight to colleagues. "I have demonstrated principled, active leadership and the ability to press the administration to hold firm to our basic principles and take on Republicans who want to turn back the clock on our accomplishments."
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said leadership didn't make any recommendations to the steering committee for the post.
Since Levin took over the committee in the spring, Neal has been lobbying to either lead the committee if Democrats held the majority or become the ranking member.
"The argument I tried to make is that we had an extraordinary four years of legislation where we had breathtaking achievements," Neal said Wednesday. "We won every vote and lost every argument."
"And I said, specifically, cap-and-trade became cap-and-tax, a modest market-driven healthcare plan became a government takeover and bank transparency and stimulus became socialism," he said. "My hunch is these things are going to work and it was the labeling that caught us back-footed, and I pledge that there would be no confusion about the message I would offer on the Ways and Means committee."