Rep. Dave Camp, Powerful House Committee Chairman, Is Leaving Congress

Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp (L), R-Michigan, listens to testimony by Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, US Department of Health and Human Services as she speaks during a hearing with the House Ways and Means Committee in Washington, DC, October 29, 2013.
National Journal
Sarah Mimms and Elahe Izadi
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Sarah Mimms and Elahe Izadi
March 31, 2014, 1:36 p.m.

Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Dave Camp, chair­man of the power­ful House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee, an­nounced he will be re­tir­ing at the end of his term.

“This de­cision was reached after much con­sid­er­a­tion and dis­cus­sion with my fam­ily,” Camp said in a state­ment. “Serving in Con­gress is the great hon­or of my pro­fes­sion­al life. I am deeply grate­ful to the people of the 4th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict for pla­cing their trust in me. Over the years, their un­waver­ing sup­port has been a source of strength, pur­pose, and in­spir­a­tion.”

Camp was first elec­ted to Con­gress in 1990, and be­came chair­man in 2011 when Re­pub­lic­ans re­took the House.

But due to com­mit­tee term lim­its, this is the last Con­gress that Camp will be able to serve as the House’s lead tax-writer. He spent last year trav­el­ing around the coun­try with then-Sen­ate Fin­ance Com­mit­tee Chair­man Max Baucus in their ef­fort to push through tax re­form, but that cam­paign stalled in Feb­ru­ary when Pres­id­ent Obama ap­poin­ted Baucus as am­bas­sad­or to China.

Camp went ahead with his own over­haul pro­pos­al in March, but that wasn’t em­braced by House GOP lead­er­ship. Camp is an ally of House Speak­er John Boehner, who de­clined to en­dorse Camp’s plan, in­stead say­ing the cham­ber will be­gin a “con­ver­sa­tion” about tax re­form. Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell said he has “no hope for [re­form] hap­pen­ing this year.”

In a state­ment Monday, Speak­er Boehner said Camp “has been a lead­er in the fight to in­crease eco­nom­ic growth and help cre­ate more Amer­ic­an jobs,” and that he and “the whole House” will miss him.

Camp is one of sev­er­al close Boehner al­lies to an­nounce his re­tire­ment this year. Oth­ers in­clude Reps. Mike Ro­gers, also of Michigan; Doc Hast­ings of Wash­ing­ton; Tom Lath­am of Iowa; and Buck McK­eon of Cali­for­nia.

“Dur­ing the next nine months, I will re­double my ef­forts to grow our eco­nomy and ex­pand op­por­tun­ity for every Amer­ic­an by fix­ing our broken tax code, per­man­ently solv­ing phys­i­cian pay­ments for seni­ors, strength­en­ing the so­cial safety net, and find­ing new mar­kets for U.S. goods and ser­vices,” Camp said in his re­tire­ment an­nounce­ment.

Camp’s re­tire­ment opens the path for Rep. Paul Ry­an of Wis­con­sin, the House Budget Com­mit­tee chair­man, to make a bid for the Ways and Means gavel. Ry­an signaled his in­terest in the top tax-writ­ing post earli­er this year amid ru­mors that Camp would seek an ex­emp­tion to House Re­pub­lic­ans’ term lim­its for an ad­di­tion­al two years as chair­man. But Rep. Kev­in Brady serves as the most seni­or mem­ber on the con­gres­sion­al pan­el, and plans to chal­lenge Ry­an for the post.

The de­par­ture also opens up an­oth­er con­gres­sion­al seat in Michigan, com­ing on the heels of re­tire­ment an­nounce­ments from Demo­crat­ic Rep. John Din­gell and Demo­crat­ic Sen. Carl Lev­in, along with Ro­gers. Camp’s re­tire­ment sets off something of a sea change in Michigan. With Demo­crat­ic Rep. Gary Peters run­ning for the state’s open Sen­ate seat, at least four of Michigan’s 14 House seats will see new mem­bers next year.

But Camp’s dis­trict is solidly Re­pub­lic­an, ac­cord­ing to the Cook Polit­ic­al Re­port. Obama lost it in 2012 and nar­rowly won it in 2008. Can­did­ates run­ning in the primary have un­til April 22 to file.

Re­pub­lic­ans are eye­ing po­ten­tial suc­cessors for Camp’s seat, in­clud­ing state Sen. John Moolen­aar, who had been elec­ted to the state Sen­ate in 2010 after serving in the state House.

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