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Camp Runs Ways and Means Quietly

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Rep. Dave Camp said he looked back to former Ways and Means Chairman Bill Archer to find a suitable role model for his low-key, results-oriented style.

He might be one of the most powerful men in Washington, but you wouldn't know it to look at Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp.

Unlike predecessors such as Reps. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), the Michigan Republican isn't known for a bombastic style, opting instead for a more measured approach.

And that, those who know Camp say, is the secret to his success.

"Members just like Dave. He's got a good way about him. He knows his stuff, he does his homework," said Jack Howard, a lobbyist with Wexler & Walker.

"He is a very thoughtful and deliberative guy," Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said of Camp in a recent interview.

A lobbyist who works on issues before Camp's committee said bluntly, "You shouldn't mistake a lack of bombast for a lack of effectiveness."

Howard, who has known Camp since he was elected 20 years ago, said the Representative is particularly well-suited to the new regime of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who has emphasized a more traditional, committee-driven approach than has been used in recent years.

"In a way, he's reflective of the Boehner leadership style," Howard said. "Just get the job done."

Camp says that while there is a place for partisanship and messaging, his approach to running the committee is about results.

"I think my style is closer to [former Rep.] Bill Archer's style," Camp said, referring to the Texas Republican who chaired the committee from 1996 to 2001. Like Camp, Archer was a social and fiscal conservative in many ways. But particularly in the later years of his chairmanship, Archer built a reputation for attempting to find ways around partisan gridlock, working with Democrats and Republicans alike.

Camp's agenda is simple: "Mine is focused on solutions and getting things done," he said.

So far this year, that strategy has given Camp a bit of a dubious distinction, being one of the few chairmen to author policy legislation that has been signed by President Barack Obama.

While the Energy and Commerce Committee, Natural Resources Committee and other panels have focused on red-meat agenda items, Camp quickly pushed through repeal of the 1099 reporting requirement, a key component of Obama's health care reform law that was deeply unpopular with small-business owners because it would have dramatically increased the amount of information that they would file to the IRS. Unlike virtually every other GOP effort to repeal all or part of that law, Camp's bill found broad bipartisan support.

"We're the only committee to have the president repeal a part of his health care bill," Camp said proudly.

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