With members of the House and Senate returning to Washington, D.C., later this week to vote on party leadership positions, members on both sides of Capitol Hill are looking for opportunities to move up in the congressional hierarchy.  House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Ranking Democrat Nick Rahall’s (D-W.Va.) defeat in last week’s elections created one of the most high-profile vacancies for House Democrats.  Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the current Ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee and former Ranking Democrat on the T&I Highways and Transit Subcommittee, announced last week his expected candidacy to be the top Democrat on the full T&I Committee.  As DeFazio will be the most senior Democrat on the T&I Committee in 2015, many expected his ascension to be non-controversial.  Representative John Garamendi (D-Calif.), however, has launched a long-shot bid to become the Ranking T&I Committee Democrat next year.  House Democrats typically award top committee posts by seniority, but there have been exceptions to that practice in recent years.  We will keep you apprised as the House and Senate move forward with filling out their respective committee rosters.