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2008 Republican National Convention: Day 3 (Getty Images North America)

Rep. Fred Upton To Head House Energy, Commerce Panel

Dec 7, 2010

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Frank James

Rep. Fred Upton, a veteran Republican House member from Michigan who has drawn the suspicions, and that's putting it mildly, of some conservatives, has won the contest to be House Energy and Commerce Committee chair.

Upton has promised to launch a campaign to "reveal, repeal and replace" the new health-care law from his new perch. On that point, he's in synch with most other conservatives.

But he has drawn the ire of some of the leading Republican broadcast icons, like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, because of positions that have led some Republicans to attach to him the "moderate" label.

Upton, for instance, angered conservatives by co-sponsoring a Bush Administration energy bill that phased out incandescent light bulbs. Judging from the comments on the National Review Online site, many conservatives aren't in a forgiving mood on this one.

The lawmaker has promised to revisit that decision.

The energy panel is one of the most powerful and busiest on Capitol Hill since it has a wide jurisdiction which creates the opportunity for many hearings.

Thus, the chairmanship was energetically contested by several candidates, including Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, the panel's top Republican.

Barton was embroiled in controversy earlier this year when he apologized during a Gulf oil spill hearing to BP for all the heat it was getting from the government.

Barton had support from some high-profile Tea Party movement types, like Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. But that wasn't enough to win him the top spot.

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