Congressional Retirements Blow to Michigan's Clout

Sunday, 06 Apr 2014 05:05 PM

By Elliot Jager

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The retirement of three influential congressmen and one powerful senator, all of whom helped to provide Michigan with disproportionate national political sway, will be a setback for the state in the 114th Congress, The Hill reported.

Michigan lawmakers hold the chairmanships of six committees – sharing first place with California. Additionally, two of the most senior members of the House, Democrats John Dingell and John Conyers, are from the Great Lakes State.

Dingell, the dean of the House, is set to retire in 2015. Republican Reps. Dave Camp, Ways and Means Committee chairman, Mike Rogers, Intelligence Committee chairman, as well as Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, are all leaving Congress at the end of 2014.

Rogers said that Michigan's lopsided power was largely a matter of luck. "There was no backroom with cigars and martinis where we all said, 'Let's become powerful committee chairmen.'"

Republican Rep. Candice Miller of Michigan, chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, said the changes were a setback.

"There's no way to sugarcoat it. It certainly is a loss when you lose that kind of seniority, institutional knowledge, the understanding of this place and the ability to get things done."
Democrats and Republicans tend to rally around the state's auto industry.

"When it came to the auto industry, there was a perfect example of the entire Michigan delegation— Republicans, Democrats— all working together for the home team," said Miller.

The entire delegation met with General Motors chief Mary Barra before her testimony last week about the company's handling of a faulty ignition switch that has been tied to 13 fatalities.

Conyers, age 84, who has been in Congress since 1965, becomes dean. He says he will have to get more involved in antitrust law and intellectual property issues now that Dingell is leaving Capitol Hill, The Hill reported.

Meanwhile, Dingell's wife, Debbie, is running to replace him. And the state is retaining the clout amassed by Miller, Republican Rep. Fred Upton, Sander Levin, ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, and Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Agriculture Committee.

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