Kildee making bid for Ways and Means Committee

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Washington — With the news that longtime Democratic Rep. Sandy Levin will retire, one of his Michigan colleagues is seeking to succeed him on the tax-writing Ways & Means Committee.

Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, on Saturday sent a letter to the chairs of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, which makes committee assignments, and also wrote to House Democratic leaders.

“Being from Michigan, I know how vital it is that our country’s tax and trade policies prioritize American workers and businesses. Hardworking Michiganders helped to build the middle class and workers in my hometown of Flint and across our region put the world on wheels,” Kildee wrote Saturday to Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Eric Swalwell of California, who co-chair the Steering Committee.

“And with Congressman Levin’s retirement, it will be important to have representation from a state that plays such a critical role in powering our economy into the 21st century.”

Levin has sat on the Ways and Means Committee for 30 years, serving as chair when it passed the federal health care law in 2009. He was the top Democrat from 2010 through 2016 until stepping down a year ago.

Kildee’s clinching the spot would allow Michigan to keep a Democratic representative on the tax-writing panel after Levin’s retirement at the end of the term. The committee already includes Republican Rep. Mike Bishop of Rochester, who joined the panel earlier this year.

The assignment could further boost Kildee’s national profile, which rose during his aggressive response to the water contamination crisis in his hometown of Flint.

Kildee decided against a run for Michigan governor earlier this year, saying he wanted to stay in Congress to make the “biggest impact” for his constituents.

He has spoken out strongly in opposition to the GOP tax bill in recent weeks, saying it would benefit the wealthy and corporations at the expense of the middle class. Trade has also been a top issue for the congressman, having served as a member of President Barack Obama’s Export Council.

Last month, he held a roundtable focusing on ways that Congress can create economic opportunity in communities like Flint, Saginaw and Bay City through public and private investment. Kildee was joined by Rep. Brian Higgins, D-New York, the vice ranking Democrat on Ways and Means.

Over the weekend, Kildee called House leaders and current members of the Ways and Means panel to express his intent to seek a spot on the committee.

Kildee worked last year to pass a $170 million aid package to help Flint recover from its water contamination crisis.

He has served on the House Financial Services Committee since 2013, gaining a leadership role this year in the position of vice ranking member and taking a role in fighting GOP efforts to role back aspects of the Dodd-Frank consumer protection law.

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