House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced appointments to several powerful committees on Thursday, most notably the selection of Rep. Kathleen Rice over fellow New Yorker Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
The New York lawmakers had been jockeying for a seat on the panel, according to several media reports, and lobbying to colleagues behind the scenes for weeks, Politico reported.
The committee oversees a broad range of issues, including consumer protection, food and drug safety, public health, health care policy and climate issues.
Politico reported that there was a contentious private meeting on Thursday at the Steering and Policy Committee, where there was a secret ballot to vote on the two candidates. The news outlet said the vote was 46-13.
Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a rising star in the party, has been outspoken on many of the issues the committee would tackle. She is currently a member of the powerful House Committee on Oversight and Reform. She also co-chaired a panel advising President-elect Joe Biden on climate policy during his campaign.
Rice is a more moderate member of the party, a former district attorney who represents parts of Long Island. She currently serves on the House Committee on Homeland Security. Rice’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Pelosi praised the appointments in a statement.
“House Democrats are united in our mission to Build Back Better, and with these strong voices at the table, we will deliver on that sacred promise to make a real difference for all Americans,” she said.
Dartunorro Clark is a political reporter for NBC News.