Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

March 30, 2014

George Weeks: Michigan's clout to fade on Capitol Hill

Our clout fades. The announced surprise retirement of a third key Michigan player on Capitol Hill is another loss for the state and the nation.

Seven-term U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Howell, prominent chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who is frequently quoted in national media on foreign and domestic security issues, said Friday he would not run again. He’ll become a radio talk show host next year.

(The Detroit Free Press said, “He had had the most appearances on Sunday news talk shows of anyone in Congress in the past year.”)

Rogers, a former FBI agent and state Senate majority floor leader, last year declined to make what would have what have been a strong bid for the GOP nomination to replace retiring Sen. Carl Levin.

Although Rogers’ emphasis has been on security issues, his prominence on the Hill has been important on Great Lakes, auto industry and other issues key to Michigan. Furthermore, he was a force for bipartisanship, an increasingly rare factor in Washington.

Gov. Rick Snyder said Rogers “…always put the interest of others first. …I wish him nothing but the best as he begins a new career.” That career will be with Cumulus, which has many stations in Michigan, including Detroit’s widely-heard WJR.

Also in the House comes the retirement this year of 29-term Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, the longest-serving member of Congress in history, a champion of the auto industry and other Michigan issues.

Six-term Levin, Michigan’s longest-serving senator, is a power on the Hill on foreign and domestic issues as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee as well as chairman of the Oversight Investigations Committee.

Levin wisely has sounded the alarm on weaking of U.S. military readiness, as last week when at a committee hearing he said that while the Navy last year faced “serious readiness problems…the increased emphasis on readiness in this year’s budget will address some of the Navy’s most serious readiness problems, but results in a serious shortfall in modernization funds to meet future threats.”

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