Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

November 3, 2013

George Weeks: Mich. has key roles on Capitol Hill

In a sense, it was Michigan Week on Capitol Hill as two state lawmakers led watchdog committees hearings on health care “glitches,” another was key on current major national security issues, and three sought a solution on food stamps.

— Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, presided over a hearing last week where Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, faced tough grilling from a committee that including Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, ranking Democrat member of the committee.

Camp said that while website problems she was asked about “can eventually be fixed, the widespread problems with Obamacare cannot.”

— Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, presided over an even more contentious grilling of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, former governor of Kansas. She said in candor: “Hold me accountable for the debacle” of website problems. “I’m responsible.”

The former longtime chairman for the committee is Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, now the ranking member. He joined in questioning of Sebelius, as did Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton.

Rogers complained to her that the website had a “completely…unacceptable level of security” about citizen information.

(Sebelius, daughter of 1971-75 Ohio Gov. John J. Gilligan, has a Michigan connection. She spent time in the summers with her family in Leland.)

— Rogers, a high profile but dropout prospect as a 2014 GOP contender for the Senate seat being abandoned by Levin, is a major figure on Capitol Hill and in the national media as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

— Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Reps. Levin and Camp are members of a conference committee designated to sort out differences on a bill costing nearly 1.8 million Michiganians reductions in food stamps.

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