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Payback Time: Who the Democrats Will Target

ABC / The Blotter | November 8, 2006
Rhonda Schwartz

Halliburton, the CIA and big tobacco companies are among the early targets identified by top Democratic staff to ABC News as likely targets for investigation once the Democrats take control of the House at the beginning of next year.

The staffers say Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), now expected to become speaker, has told top Democratic donors there is a "100-hour agenda" she wants to push through -- taking on the minimum wage, drug and energy prices and corruption.

Defense contractors, including Halliburton, the intelligence rationale for the war in Iraq and CIA secret prisons are what one staffer called "uninvestigated scandals."

Here's a look at who's in line to take over the most powerful committee chairmanships and the investigations they are likely to pursue:

In the House:

Henry Waxman (D-Calif.): Described as "a pit-bull with a fantastic staff," Rep. Waxman is in place to take over as chairman of the powerful House Government Reform Committee. Insiders look for this to become the powerhouse investigating committee "where the action is at." Expect Rep. Waxman to start by issuing subpoenas for top Halliburton and KBR executives. Others issues will include Iraq war contracting and Katrina and Gulf Coast re-building.

The last time executives from tobacco companies were called to testify was when Congressman Waxman was Chairman of the Health and Environment Subcommittee of Government Reform in 1994.

Jane Harman (D-Calif.): As a possibility for Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Harman is eager to pursue the ties between convicted Congressman Duke Cunningham and defense contractors. But she is far from assured of taking over as chair of the committee due to long-standing opposition by the Congressional Black Caucus and Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) who wants the job himself. Insiders say the job most likely goes to Sylvester Reyes (D-Texas).

Regardless of who is chairman, one of the first issues most likely will be the Cunningham scandal. Also on the agenda is pre-war intelligence: Who forged the Niger documents?

George Miller (D-Calif.): Rep. Miller is slated to take over the Education and the Workforce Committee. Expect a full rehearing of allegations involving convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the Northern Marianas Islands and Tom Delay.

John Conyers (D-Mich.): Rep. Conyers is in line to take over the Judiciary Committee. While one top hill staffer says, "His appetite for true investigation is untested," his new book takes on President Bush for violating the law on Iraq and secret prisons. Internet blogs are hyperventilating about possible impeachment hearings.

John Dingell (D-Mich.): In line for the Chairman of the House Commerce Committee, Rep. Dingell's office says he plans to hold oversight hearings on Medicare and energy policies. His first goal would be to push through a bill aimed at lower prescription drug prices for Medicare.

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