GOP Rep. Camp, chairman of House Ways and Means Committee, to retire

WASHINGTON – Rep. Dave Camp, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and an advocate for overhauling the federal tax code, announced Monday that he will retire after 24 years in Congress.

“Serving in Congress is the great honour of my professional life,” Camp, 60, said in a statement. “I am deeply grateful to the people of the 4th Congressional District for placing their trust in me. Over the years, their unwavering support has been a source of strength, purpose and inspiration.”

Camp battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, underwent chemotherapy and said he was cancer-free in December 2012.

Camp was term-limited as chairman of the tax-writing committee, and his decision was somewhat expected. He is the second senior Michigan Republican to announce his retirement in the past week. Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, announced on Friday that he would retire.

Republicans had hoped that either Camp or Rogers would seek the open Senate seat of retiring Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., but neither man pursued the job. The retirements add up to a significant hit to the clout of Michigan’s congressional delegation. Camp and Rogers, along with Levin and Democratic Rep. John Dingell, accounted for more than 120 years of experience.

Last month, Camp unveiled a far-reaching plan to overhaul the nation’s tax laws that would wipe out a slew of popular tax breaks to help pay for lower overall tax rates. It would repeal deductions for state and local taxes, medical expenses and moving expenses. Tax credits for child care, adoption services and energy-efficient upgrades to homes would be gone as well.

“We need to be the party of growth, opportunity, restoring the American dream. And I think this is something Americans have hungered for,” said Camp, the plan’s author.

The proposal got a chilly reception from Democrats and Republicans.

“Any proposal that eliminates the deduction for state and local taxes, as the Republican plan would do, is dead on arrival,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, declined to promise a vote in the House this year. When asked about the details, Boehner said: “Blah, blah, blah, blah. Listen, there’s a conversation that needs to begin. This is the beginning of the conversation.”

Boehner, who was elected to the House the same year as Camp, said in a statement Monday that he will miss his colleague.

“From the beginning, I have been impressed by his wisdom and thoughtfulness, and grateful for his friendship,” the speaker said. “He has been a leader in the fight to increase economic growth and help create more American jobs by reforming our tax code, pushing for more effective free trade agreements, and saving Social Security and Medicare for future generations.”

Levin said Camp “brought a warm and dignified touch to his leadership.”

Republicans are expected to hold Camp’s GOP-leaning seat in central Michigan.