Carolyn Maloney chosen as first woman to lead House Oversight panel

She succeeds the late Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, who died last month.
Image: Jerrold Nadler, Carolyn Maloney
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, acting chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, joined at left by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, meet with reporters to discuss the next steps of the impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump, at the Capitol on Oct. 31, 2019.J. Scott Applewhite / AP file

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By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Veteran New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney was elected Wednesday lead the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee, the first woman to hold the job in the panel’s 92-year history.

Maloney defeated Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly by a 133-86 vote in a secret ballot among the full Democratic caucus. She succeeds the late Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, who died last month.

As Oversight chief, Maloney, 73, will play a key role in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

The committee has a broad portfolio, including oversight of the Trump administration’s handling of the census and immigration matters, as well as investigations into Trump’s business dealings and security clearances granted to White House officials.

Oversight is among the committees handling the impeachment inquiry, although the most visible one is the House Intelligence Committee, whose chairman is Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Maloney, who lost out to Cummings as the committee’s top Democrat nearly a decade ago, is the panel’s longest-serving Democrat, having joined the committee in 1993 following her first election to Congress.

She has led the committee on an acting basis since Cummings’ Oct. 17 death and won endorsements from the next two longest-serving Democrats, Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s delegate, and Rep. William Lacy Clay of Missouri. She also was endorsed by South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat and an influential member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Norton and Clay also are black caucus members.

Maloney is in her 14th term representing a district that includes much of Manhattan, including Trump Tower. She is best known for her years of advocacy for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and famously wore a New York firefighter’s jacket at the Capitol and even at the Met Gala until she could secure permanent authorization for a victims’ fund. A measure making the 9/11 fund permanent was a rare example of a bipartisan bill signed into law earlier this year.

Maloney has promised to continue the robust oversight agenda begun by Cummings after Democrats assumed the majority this year. In a letter to colleagues, she touted her work helping to remove the citizenship question from the 2020 census, promote the Equal Rights Amendment and to introduce bills to guarantee paid family leave for federal employees.

Connolly, 69, congratulated Maloney on her election, noting in a statement that Oversight “has a consequential responsibility in the next year to bring transparency and accountability to the Trump administration for the American people.’’ He said Maloney has his full support.

Maloney also serves on the House Financial Services Committee, reflecting the importance of the financial industry in her district. She agreed to give up her role leading a subcommittee on investor protection and capital markets if elected to head Oversight.