Levin Secures Top Democratic Post on House Ways and Means Panel

U.S. House Democrats, rebuffing the recommendations of a nominating panel, today chose Michigan Representative Sander Levin to be their leader on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee in the next session of Congress.

Levin, who has been acting Ways and Means chairman, for much of this year, defeated Massachusetts Representative Richard Neal 109-78, said Representative John Larson of Connecticut.

The Democratic Steering and Policy Committee last night had voted 23-22 in favor of Neal, said Representatives Steve Israel of New York and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.

In an e-mail to Democratic caucus members before today’s vote, Levin described himself as “an effective chair” and “the best person to meet the challenges our caucus faces in the 112th Congress.”

“I have demonstrated principled, active leadership and the ability to press the administration to hold firm to our basic principles and take on Republicans who want to turn back the clock on our accomplishments,” he wrote.

Neal said the theme of his appeal to the caucus today was that he would be a better messenger for Democratic policies. “We have to do a better job of explaining all of the issues,” he said.

Republican Chairman

The results of the Nov. 2 midterm elections gave Republicans control of the House in the next congressional session. Republican Dave Camp of Michigan will be chairman of the Ways and Means panel starting in January.

Neal is the current chairman of the Ways and Means subcommittee on select revenue measures. He had been angling for months to challenge Levin, who has more seniority on the panel and has been its acting chairman since New York Representative Charles Rangel stepped aside in March during an ethics investigation into his conduct. Rangel was censured Dec. 2 for committing 11 violations of House ethics rules.

Levin, 79, who represents Detroit’s northeast suburbs, has pursued policies backed by labor unions that include raising taxes for executives of private equity firms and ending a tax-saving technique favored by Verizon Communications Inc.

Neal, 61, represents a district near the Boston headquarters of Fidelity Investments that is home to insurance and high technology interests. He speaks frequently at conferences sponsored by Washington-based groups including the Tax Executives Institute, which includes tax officials of the nation’s 1,000 biggest companies.

Both men are proponents of policies that businesses support, including a permanent research tax credit.

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