In my view, the two U.S. House members representing most of Up North not only cast the right — but also notable — votes last week in favor of the bipartisan compromise to avoid a federal debt default and halt the 16-day government shutdown.
Especially notable was the vote of two-term, 1st District Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, who joined four of Michigan’s nine Republicans and all five of its Democratic members in supporting the measures despite strong opposition from tea party and other conservative groups that have been longtime Benishek supporters.
Also notable was support of 12-term, 4th District Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland, who as chairman of the powerful tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee is a leader on money issues and has a good working relationship with key Democrats in both chambers.
The other congressman representing a small portion of northern counties, 2nd term, 2nd District Rep. Bill Huizenger, R-Zeeland, was a no vote.
Benishek, who could get a strong Democratic challenge next year from ex-Kalkaska County Sheriff Jerry Cannon, a former National Guard major general, said he voted as he did to “reopen the government and prevent the country from defaulting.”
Benishek, who represents all of the Upper Peninsula and 17 counties below the bridge, said: “Northern Michigan families deserve a government that’s open and running.”
Not open or running during the shutdown were four national parks in his district: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Isle Royale National Park and Keweenaw National Historical Park.
As noted by Camp in the New York Times: “Now we’re going to shift to oversight of the health care law and clearly there are huge problems. Now we’re going to have to pursue what is this law really doing for Americans. Is it working and is it delivering?”
It’s a good bet that Camp will approach the oversight in a more reasonable way than that of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, whose “take-no-prisoners approach. …attention-grabbing tactics,” as noted by Bloomberg News, “have strained his relations with colleagues and reliable Republican allies outside of it.”
One colleague is Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who, according to Bloomberg, said Cruz is emerging from what McCain “called a ‘shameful chapter’ in the Senate’s history largely unscathed in the eyes of his donors and Republican activists.”
The Bloomberg account was published by The Detroit News under the headline “Cruz’s popularity soars with budget showdown.” Hard to figure.
Engler weighs in
The Cruz crowd is not soaring, or even hardly popular, with business leaders across the land.
“Business Voices Frustration with GOP,” headlined the page 1 Oct. 17 Wall Street Journal in reporting “the budget stalemate that had the U.S. flirting with default has left business and the Republican Party, longtime political allies, at a crossroads.”
The Journal said “the episode has prompted to business lobby groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to consider taking sides in Republican primaries next year in hopes of replacing tea-party conservatives with more business-friendly pragmatists.”
Under a picture of 1991-98 Michigan Republican Gov. John Engler, now Washington, D.C-based president of the Business Roundtable, he lamented congressional reluctance to compromise and said:
“Today we have a significant number of people who don’t want to compromise because they think they can win something that’s been unwinnable.”
George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was the political columnist for The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.