The Washington Post

House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp to retire


House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., speaks at a news conference where he he outlined a major plan to rewrite the nation’s tax code, at the Capitol in Washington. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said Monday that he plans to retire at the end of this congressional term.

His announcement was expected by many inside the Capitol. The 60-year-old has served in Congress since 1991 and assumed control of the committee when the GOP retook control of the House in 2011. But his six-year term as the top Republican on the panel is scheduled to end this year. Camp battled cancer last year and considered running for Michigan’s open U.S. Senate seat but opted instead to put all his political and legislative muscle into the fight to overhaul the tax code.

Camp said in a statement that serving in Congress has been “the great honor of my professional life” and that for the rest of his term he will focus on fixing the nation’s tax rules.

His partner in that effort was supposed to be then-Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who announced his own retirement plans last year. At that time, Baucus said he would use his final time in Congress working on a tax overhaul. But it became increasingly clear that the sharply divided Congress would be unable to complete the complicated task of deciding questions such as what to do about mortgage interest deductions, how to tax the earnings of private equity firms and hedge funds, and how to establish new tax rates for individuals and businesses.

Baucus resigned in February to become the U.S. ambassador to China, leaving tax reform stalled. Camp released his own plan in March but House GOP leaders and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) immediately dismissed it as something that would not happen this year.

The battle to succeed Camp at Ways and Means is a two-way race between Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the clear front-runner, and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.), who has more seniority on the panel than Ryan.

Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, is scheduled to release his budget blueprint Tuesday, and the 2012 vice presidential nominee has stated publicly that he wants to take over the gavel from Camp. But Ryan’s 2016 presidential ambitions may preclude him from doing so.

Camp is the 26th member of the House and the fourth member of the Michigan congressional delegation to announce plans to step down at the end of the session. More House Republicans than House Democrats have announced plans to retire this year. Camp is also the fourth House GOP committee chairman to announce his departure. Five Senate Democratic chairmen also plan to step down after this year.

Camp’s north-central Michigan district leans Republican and is expected to remain in GOP hands after the November midterm election. Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, won 54 percent of the vote there.

Potential candidates looking to replace Camp have little time to decide whether to run. The filing deadline is April 22.

Sean Sullivan and Lori Montgomery contributed to this report.

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.
Paul Kane covers Congress and politics for the Washington Post.

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