Super committee members Dave Camp and Fred Upton hold two of the most influential gavels in the House — but it’s their history of voting with the president on issues important for their home state of Michigan that may make them the lawmakers to watch as the budget debate engulfs Washington yet again.
That two of the three House GOP Representatives on the super committee are from the Wolverine State is largely accidental. Camp and Upton were ostensibly chosen to serve on the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction because of their chairmanships and their loyalty to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). But Michigan’s decline over the past decade has made them apt to buck their party on issues of importance to their constituents.
For example, both broke with their party to support the bailout of the automobile industry and the Cash for Clunkers program in 2009.
Camp also split with many in his party by supporting an unemployment benefits extension in April 2010, and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) praised Camp on the Senate floor Monday for his bipartisan approach to trade issues.
In public statements about the super committee, Camp and Upton have addressed the dire economic conditions in their state and the need to turn the economy around as a driving purpose of their membership on the panel.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Michigan’s unemployment rate in August was 11.2 percent, with Kalamazoo and Benton Harbor, two main areas in Upton’s district, logging rates of 9.5 percent and 10.8 percent, respectively, in July. The BLS did not break out any cities in Camp’s sprawling north-central Michigan district.
Those following the pending budget debate, however, are reluctant to predict how exactly Michigan’s amplified economic needs might inform its two members on a panel tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in savings over the next 10 years. President Barack Obama also explicitly asked the committee to find the offsets to pay for his $447 billion jobs plan.
“There’s actually a lot pressure on them, high expectations in Michigan. It’s about having something that’s fair and focuses on jobs, as well as deficit reduction,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said in an interview. “Nationally, it certainly raises up Michigan’s conference, which is great.”
“Everybody who cares in Michigan will be involved in communicating with them about what they think ought to happen,” she added.
Sources who follow Michigan and Congressional politics think Camp and Upton’s state ties could push them one of two ways: The lawmakers could give the super committee’s Republicans more credibility in rejecting Obama’s suggestions because they have already sided with the president on occasion, or the duo’s ties could make them more likely to play ball with Democrats.
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