Dave Camp: Term limits for gavels a mistake

Greg Nash

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), in likely his final year with the committee gavel, on Wednesday criticized the GOP’s policy of term-limiting committee chairmen.

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Under House GOP rules, Republican lawmakers can only hold the top slot for six years, regardless of whether they serve as the chairman or ranking member, unless they get a waiver.

Camp, speaking at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast, suggested the six-year policy was unfair to those who spent some time as ranking member. The Michigan Republican is now in his second term as Ways and Means Committee chairman after spending one term as the panel’s ranking member.

“What the change has been is, that it’s six years, including ranking member,” Camp said. “It’s certainly a significant difference between being ranking member and being the chairman, in terms of your ability to try and impact the agenda.”

Camp, who released a broad tax reform draft last week that faces long odds at becoming law this year, brushed aside questions about whether he would seek a waiver to become the top Republican on the powerful committee for a fourth consecutive term.

He said he would concentrate his efforts on ensuring that Republicans keep the House majority.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), perhaps the GOP’s preeminent voice on fiscal issues, has expressed interest in the Ways and Means Committee gavel. Ryan is widely presumed to have the inside track to become chairman next year, if he wants it, giving him more even more power to work on Republican priorities like tax and entitlement reform.

Ryan received a waiver this Congress to remain chairman of the House Budget Committee.