Maloney wins House Oversight gavel

Rep. Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyOvernight Energy: Appeals court tosses kids' climate suit | California sues Trump over fracking | Oversight finds EPA appointees slow-walked ethics obligations Oversight finds EPA political appointees slow-walked ethics obligations Pelosi taps Virginia Democrat for key post on economic panel MORE (D-N.Y.) formally won the gavel of the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday, becoming the first woman to chair the powerful panel that is at the forefront of investigations into the Trump administration. 

House Democrats had hoped to avoid a messy fight over the chairmanship amid their impeachment inquiry and ultimately deferred to seniority to fill the critical post. She won 133-86, according to a source familiar.

"I am deeply humbled and grateful to my colleagues for entrusting me with the chairmanship. I’m honored by this opportunity to do more for the American people and will do my best to follow the honorable example that Chairman Cummings left for us all. There’s much work to be done, and I can’t wait to get started," Maloney said in a statement.

ADVERTISEMENT

Maloney beat out Stephen LynchStephen Francis LynchElection security, ransomware dominate cyber concerns for 2020 Hillicon Valley: Groups file appeal over net neutrality ruling | Lawmakers raise concerns over foreign apps | Payroll data stolen from Facebook House Democrat questions Google, Apple over handling of foreign-linked apps MORE (D-Mass.) for the chairmanship, although she won the recommendation of the leadership-backed Democratic Steering Committee the day before on a second ballot.

She has been serving as acting chairwoman since the late Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBaltimore unveils plaques for courthouse to be named after Elijah Cummings GOP leaders encourage retiring lawmakers to give up committee posts Pelosi taps Virginia Democrat for key post on economic panel MORE (D-Md.) died last month.

Maloney now officially takes over the committee’s investigations, including into President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders apologizes to Biden for supporter's op-ed Jayapal: 'We will end up with another Trump' if the US doesn't elect progressive Democrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover up,' 'national disgrace' MORE’s financial records, the efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census and the treatment of migrants at the southern border. Upon taking the role as acting chairwoman last month, Maloney vowed that “we will keep shining a spotlight on this administration’s actions.”

She previously hadn’t been a central figure in Democrats' impeachment efforts. Maloney was best known for her work on ensuring health benefits for 9/11 first responders and on women’s issues, such as legislation she’s pushed for years to establish a women’s history museum on the National Mall.

For months this year, Maloney made a point of wearing a firefighter’s jacket around the Capitol and even to the Met Gala to draw attention to her bill to ensure financial assistance for first responders who have health complications caused by their work at Ground Zero. Trump eventually signed Maloney’s bill into law in late July.

ADVERTISEMENT

Maloney’s election to lead the Oversight panel ensures that the House committee chairs leading the impeachment inquiry are not all white men.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffWhite House appoints GOP House members to advise Trump's impeachment team Trump knocks authors of 'A Very Stable Genius': 'Two stone cold losers from Amazon WP' Democrats push back on White House impeachment claims, saying Trump believes he is above the law MORE (D-Calif.) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelHouse Democrats may call new impeachment witnesses if Senate doesn't Overnight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request House panel reinvites Pompeo to deliver Iran testimony MORE (D-N.Y.) have been conducting the closed-door depositions and issuing subpoenas in coordination with the Oversight panel, while House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerMcConnell locks in schedule for start of impeachment trial Pelosi: Trump's impeachment 'cannot be erased' House to vote Wednesday on sending articles of impeachment to Senate MORE (D-N.Y.) would be responsible for the process of crafting articles of impeachment.

But Maloney will be yet another New York City–based lawmaker among the ranks, alongside Engel and Nadler.

Maloney previously ran for the top Democratic spot on the Oversight panel in December 2010. But Cummings won that race and leapfrogged Maloney even though she ranked higher in seniority at the time.

Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyTrump, Democrats set for brawl on Iran war powers Overnight Defense: Iran crisis eases as Trump says Tehran 'standing down' | Dems unconvinced on evidence behind Soleimani strike | House sets Thursday vote on Iran war powers Democrats 'utterly unpersuaded' by evidence behind Soleimani strike MORE (D-Va.), a frequent presence on cable news, chairs the Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations, while Lynch leads the Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security.

ADVERTISEMENT

Even though Democrats largely wanted to defer to seniority in the race for the Oversight gavel this time around, it took two rounds of voting for the Steering Committee to make a recommendation on Tuesday.

The Steering Committee, which acts as an arm of leadership and recommends members for committee slots, voted 35-17 on a second ballot for Maloney over Connolly. Maloney won 26 votes in the first round over Connolly’s 15 and Lynch’s 10 in the first round.

After Maloney won the election, she remarked to her colleagues in the caucus meeting that “When I came to Congress, I noticed there were no women on the walls. There were no women chairmen. I would always look, where were the women?”

Notably, asking “Where are the women?” made Maloney go viral at an Oversight Committee hearing in 2012 when Republicans organized a panel of all-male witnesses to discuss the Obama administration’s rule requiring health insurance coverage for contraception. 

“So I never thought I'd have the great honor of chairing an important committee here in the United States Congress,” Maloney added.

Updated 8:13 p.m.