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Neal, Levin Still Vying for Top Slot on Ways and Means

Updated: 3:20 p.m.

The loss of the majority hasn’t ended House Democrats’ campaigns for top committee jobs.

Reps. Sander Levin (Mich.) and Richard Neal (Mass.) are still vying for the top Democratic slot on the Ways and Means Committee; both had been jockeying for the panel’s chairmanship before Democrats lost the House on Nov. 2.

And Rep. Chaka Fattah is also continuing his long-shot bid against Rep. Norm Dicks (Wash.) for the ranking member job on the Appropriations Committee. Fattah is ranked 21st in seniority on the panel.

The Pennsylvania Democrat sent a “Dear Colleague” letter Tuesday promoting his bid.

“The Republicans’ intention to wield the Appropriations Committee gavel to undermine our hard-fought legislative victories of the past four years informs my determination to seek the Ranking Membership of Appropriations,” Fattah wrote. “I am committed to a proactive approach, advocating for and defending those priorities which are in the best interest of the American people.”

Dicks Chief of Staff George Behan did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Dicks made no secret of his desire to lead the panel for Democrats next year. Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) is retiring at the end of this Congress. Behan said prior to the elections that his boss had talked to Members of the committee asking for their support.

The Ways and Means ranking member battle also continues.

Levin served as chairman of the committee last year, taking over for embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel (N.Y.) who stepped aside in the face of ethics problems; Neal is sixth in seniority on the tax-writing panel.

Neal spokesman William Tranghese confirmed this week that his boss is still interested in leading Democrats on Ways and Means next year.

“Congressman Neal is waiting until Mr. Rangel’s hearing is completed before making an announcement,” Tranghese said in an e-mail. “If Mr. Rangel does not return as the ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee, Congressman Neal will be a candidate for that position.”

Levin Chief of Staff Hilarie Chambers also said Levin wants to be ranking member next year.

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