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Michigan Ties May Play Role on Super Committee

Upton, Camp Weigh Needs of State, Caucus

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
From left: Rep. Dave Camp, Sen. Pat Toomey, Rep. James Clyburn and Rep. Fred Upton arrive for the first meeting of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction last week.

Super committee members Dave Camp and Fred Upton hold two of the most influential gavels in the House ó but itís 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 Michiganís 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, Michiganís unemployment rate in August was 11.2 percent, with Kalamazoo and Benton Harbor, two main areas in Uptonís district, logging rates of 9.5 percent and 10.8 percent, respectively, in July. The BLS did not break out any cities in Campís sprawling north-central Michigan district.

Those following the pending budget debate, however, are reluctant to predict how exactly Michiganís 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.

ďThereís actually a lot pressure on them, high expectations in Michigan. Itís about having something thatís fair and focuses on jobs, as well as deficit reduction,Ē Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said in an interview. ďNationally, it certainly raises up Michiganís conference, which is great.Ē

ďEverybody who cares in Michigan will be involved in communicating with them about what they think ought to happen,Ē she added.

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