Michigan Losing Clout in Congress With Retirements

Image: Michigan Losing Clout in Congress With Retirements From left: Sen. Carl Levin, Rep. John Dingell, Rep. Mike Rogers and Rep. Dave Camp. (Getty Images)

Wednesday, 13 Aug 2014 07:38 AM

By Elliot Jager

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The departure of four powerful Michigan lawmakers symbolizes the end of an era for the Great Lakes State and for the nation, The New York Times reported.

The four had a collective 134 years of experience and institutional memory.

Sen. Carl Levin, 80, has been the longest-serving senator in the state's history and is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Rep. John Dingell, 88, is the longest-serving member of Congress. Rep. Mike Rogers, 51, heads the House Intelligence Committee. And Rep. Dave Camp, 61, heads the House Ways and Means Committee, which spearheads tax legislation.

Levin and Dingell are Democrats while Rogers and Camp are Republicans. Except for Levin's seat, which is competitive, the other seats are expected to stay with their parties.

Together and individually, the four probably saved Michigan's economy, thanks to an $80 billion bailout of the auto industry in 2008 and 2009.

Their departure also reflects the end of a time when seniority, congressional earmarks, and bipartisanship enabled lawmakers to trade favors in order to deliver benefits to their constituents – tunnels, university projects, waterfront parks, and facilitating complicated projects through the federal bureaucracy.

"These are men who were keeping us competitive when everyone else was disinvesting," said Ralph Lange, the city manager in Ypsilanti, the Times reported.

"It is a huge loss for Michigan," Charles Ballard, an economics a professor at Michigan State University, told the Times. "These folks have advocated for the interests of our state for decades."

Camp, for instance, would have seen to it that any tax system overhaul would not hurt the auto industry or its workers, said state lobbyist Kirk Profit, the Times reported.

"Michigan will elect some very fine replacements," Ballard said told the newspaper. "But there is no way over the short term to replace the kind of experience that will be lost."

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