Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 22, 2014

Levin: Camp’s Actions ‘Beneath the Ways and Means Committee’

Ways Means IRS 34 051713 330x209 Levin: Camps Actions Beneath the Ways and Means Committee

Rep. Sander M. Levin, right, and Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, center. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee blistered the Republican chairman Wednesday for, in his words, turning the panel into “a tool for opposition research” while failing to pass any legislation to boost the economy.

Rep. Sander M. Levin released the unusually scathing and personal letter to his fellow Michigander, Chairman Dave Camp, accusing him of using the committee as a bully pulpit for sabotaging the Obama administration.

“I am deeply troubled by the partisan turn this Committee has taken in recent months, having delayed — and in some cases completely abandoned — action on many issues of vital importance to American families and our economy while pressing ahead with a political agenda to undermine President Obama’s second term,” read the opening lines of Levin’s memo.

He went on to point out that the committee has, in six months, only held two full committee hearings on issues other than the Affordable Care Act and reports that the IRS disproportionately targeted nonprofits with ties to the tea party.

The panel has only marked up two bills, Levin complained.

The final straw, Levin suggested, was Camp’s move to subpoena health care exchange enrollment numbers from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, despite Tavenner’s promise to willingly share those numbers with Congress next week.

Levin called it “illustrative of the partisan and unproductive turn of the Committee’s agenda.”

“We serve on a Committee with a storied history of grappling with and addressing the premier issues of the day,” Levin said.

Camp’s actions, he said, “are beneath the Ways and Means Committee.”

Michelle Dimarob, a spokeswoman for Ways and Means Republicans, responded in a statement to CQ Roll Call. “The committee has worked in a bipartisan manner during the last three years and we’ll continue to do so going forward,” she wrote. “Frankly, it is in the interest of all members — Democrat and Republican — to do vigorous oversight so we can identify the law’s shortcomings and take steps to protect everyone’s constituents who are being harmed by the law.”
A GOP aide said the committee has been working “on a lot of issues in a bipartisan manner including tax reform.” The aide also said Democrats’ tenure at the helm of the panel wasn’t a paragon of bipartisanship: “When the Dems were structuring the health care law, they had only one bipartisan meeting on the bill.”

See Levin’s full letter below:

Dear Chairman Camp:

I am deeply troubled by the partisan turn this Committee has taken in recent months, having delayed – and in some cases completely abandoned – action on many issues of vital importance to American families and our economy while pressing ahead with a political agenda to undermine President Obama’s second term. The highly unprecedented use of the Committee’s subpoena power to compel information you have been told will be provided next week, and the subpoena and letter you have sent to CMS Administrator Tavenner and IRS Acting Commissioner Werfel within the last 24 hours are illustrative of the partisan and unproductive turn of the Committee’s agenda.

We serve on a Committee with a storied history of grappling with and addressing the premier issues of the day. I have been privileged to work on a bipartisan basis on many of those issues, including on trade and welfare reform. Our Committee has never served as a tool for opposition research. But the selective release of IRS information during the tax-exempt organization investigation, the use of subpoena power in the manner you have undertaken this week, and the request made of the IRS today are clearly efforts to simply gather data to continue your assault on the Affordable Care Act. They are beneath the Ways and Means Committee.

One does not need to be reminded that we are just one month into the launch of the new health insurance marketplaces. Your efforts to date illustrate that you have no interest in working to make sure quality, affordable health insurance is available to all Americans, but rather to dismantle the law and prevent people from accessing insurance as is their right under the law.

Within the last six months, you have held but two full committee hearings on issues other than the Affordable Care Act and the IRS’ screening of tax-exempt organizations. The Committee has marked up two pieces of legislation this year, the last being in April on a bill to prepare for a default by prioritizing payments of the Treasury Department.

Missing, however, has been any action to spur job growth to assist American families as they continue to recover from the Great Recession. And while Democrats on the Committee have urged a bipartisan effort to craft comprehensive tax reform, Republicans have chosen a closed-door approach centered on lowering the top tax rate by more than a third, costing $3.8 trillion.

Republicans spent the first half of October shutting down the government and threatening not to raise the debt ceiling, starving the economy of any sense of certainty for a full 16 days. Even after Republicans relented, allowing the government to reopen, you and others in the Majority have maintained a complete focus on undermining the Affordable Care Act. That obsession has come at the detriment of so many other important issues that should be the focus of this historic committee.

Sincerely,

Sander Levin

  • John C Tithof

    Mr. Levin, you are a really good one to talk. you since being in office have never done one thing for this State, and worst of all been bought and paid for all of your political life. I would not be suprised if someday the President stops and your nose shows up in the Presidents mouth. I have big doubts that after this ACA mess the President has you in if you will ever get elected again. Get ready for retirement it is just a little over a year away.Of all the people in Congress to complain, YOU SHOULD BE THE LAST

  • Stephen Barlow

    Levin is STILL a co conspirator with McCain on the Day After Christmas sneak attack on the President with the 1032 Amendment on indefinite detention in the NDAA in 2011.

    This letter does go a fair way towards redemption though.

  • ivan

    Facts seem to be missed or left out by republicans. Their party put 160 amendments into the ACA health care issue yet complain just how bad it is. From the republican controlled house we have seen nothing but complaints about Obama since he was elected. The speaker has refused to bring up bills that were sent to the house for votes yet complaints about what the senate has done is all that makes headlines as far as they are concerned. What is happening in this committee is nothing new as far as republicans have been for the past 5 years or so. Actually, all politician’s now in Washington need to go, and with out their so called “retirement” package that they voted into being for themselves.

Sign In

Forgot password?

Or

Subscribe

Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...