House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman
Standing only 5 ft. 5 in., the California Democrat is one of the toughest and most skilled legislators on Capitol Hill. The walls of Waxman's office are covered with framed pens from the presidential signing ceremonies of laws that he helped make a reality, like the Clean Air Act and consumer-safety laws. Last November, he unseated the once fearsome John Dingell to take the helm of the panel that has the broadest jurisdiction of any in Congress. That makes him the point man in the House on a cause for which he has fought over decades. An unabashed liberal, he is also a pragmatist who believes that incremental progress is preferable to none at all, so look for him to be at the table ready to make a deal.