Big news day up on Capitol Hill.

Reuters, “Four U.S. senators reach bipartisan car aid deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Four U.S. senators have reached a bipartisan agreement on a bill to assist the struggling automotive industry, the lawmakers announced in a joint statement on Thursday.

A news conference was planned for 2.30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. GMT) “to discuss the details of a bipartisan agreement on a bill to support the auto industry,” the statement said.

The lawmakers involved are Michigan Democrats Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, as well as Ohio Republican George Voinovich and Missouri Republican Christopher Bond.

Would guess it deals with the $25 million already appropriated for “green”purposes, making its use more flexible, which seems a reasonable compromise. (NAM President John Engler yesterday issued a statement encouraging passage of an aid package.)

Elsewhere, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) defeated Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) in the Democratic caucus election — secret ballot! — for chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee. The seniority system suffers another blow, and it’s safe to say that the committee will take a substantially more environmentalist and pro-regulatory turn under Waxman’s leadership. (Frank O’Donnell of Clean Air Watch is delighted.)

Funny, though, how little is being written about the implications for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Under Rep. Waxman’s chairmanship, the committee represented an important base for various “consumer” groups and environmental activists and trial lawyers, a foundation from which they could gin up attacks against the Bush Administration decisions and be certain to get sympathetic news coverage.

One assumes that oversight of the Obama Administration is not high on the priority list for the House Democrats, and the environmentalists, regulatory fans and trial lawyers are more than satisfied with their access to both the Legislative and Executive Branches. House Oversight could well be one of the sleepiest backwaters in Congress next session.

That’s the consequence of elections.

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