WASHINGTON — House Democrats elected Representative Carolyn B. Maloney of New York on Wednesday to lead the Oversight and Reform Committee, making her the first woman ever to head the crucial investigative panel at a time when it is helping conduct the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
Ms. Maloney’s victory ends a quiet but consequential race among Democrats to succeed Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the former chairman and giant of the committee who died last month. She will join the triumvirate of lawmakers leading the investigation into Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.
“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,” Ms. Maloney said in a statement. “There’s much work to be done.”
Democratic leaders sought to avoid a fractious internal battle in the midst of their impeachment inquiry. Ms. Maloney, 73, is the most senior lawmaker on the committee and was already acting chairwoman after Mr. Cummings’s death. On Tuesday, a key group of Democratic lawmakers formally recommended that she lead the panel, effectively edging out two other lawmakers who vied for the seat, Representative Stephen F. Lynch of Massachusetts, who then dropped out of the race, and Representative Gerald E. Connolly of Virginia.
Ms. Maloney ultimately defeated Mr. Connolly, who had positioned himself as a more fiery Democratic messenger, 133 to 86.
Even though she has not played a central role in the House’s most contentious and consequential investigations, Ms. Maloney’s supporters had argued that a woman should be among the lawmakers leading the impeachment inquiry. Democrats have also historically rewarded seniority, and she received both the backing of the Congressional Black Caucus and Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the No. 3 Democrat.
Ms. Maloney, an ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has served in Congress since 1993, and ran against Mr. Cummings in 2010 to lead Democrats on the committee. Mr. Cummings beat her for the ranking member position, though at the time she was senior to him.
As the House Intelligence Committee has held public impeachment hearings, its chairman, Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, has served as the inquiry’s public face. Ms. Maloney will likely have a tertiary role as investigators on her committee continue to work on the inquiry. But she will use the power of the gavel to continue other investigations begun by Mr. Cummings, including one into the administration’s failed bid to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
A formidable challenge awaits the new chairwoman from the other side of the panel’s dais, in the form of Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the committee. Widely regarded as Mr. Trump’s strongest defender in the House, Mr. Jordan will go head-to-head against Ms. Maloney as the panel continues its investigations.
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