Traverse City Record-Eagle

July 1, 2012

George Weeks: Stabenow again works across aisle

BY GEORGE WEEKS, Syndicated columnist

— During these excessively partisan times in Washington, I’ve been on the alert for Michigan politicians on Capitol Hill that go against the ugly flow and cooperate with the opposition party on occasion for the public good.

For example, Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow introduced commendable companion legislation to get the feds off the dime on battling Asian carp.

(On Friday, Congress passed legislation setting an 18-month deadline for the Army Corps of Engineers to complete its plan for preventing Asian carp migrations at 18 entry points, including Chicago-area rivers and canals that flow into Lake Michigan. Camp it “puts us on the path towards a lasting solution.”) In late June, Stabenow, chairing the Senate Agriculture Committee, won acclaim from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, for a  “fabulous” joint effort with the committee’s ranking Republican, Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, on a five-year, half-trillion-dollar farm and food Senate-passed bill that ends direct payments to farmers regardless of whether they actually plant crops.

McConnell said Stabenow and Roberts “worked together very skillfully… This is a very fine day in the recent history of the Senate. “ Politico said it well: “Don’t look now, but the Senate’s actually working. “  Stabenow said the bill  “ represents the greatest reform in agriculture in decades.” Among state kudos for the bill were from the Michigan Farm Bureau, and the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and the Leelanau Conservancy for the bill’s promotion of land trusts.

According to the Associated Press, the bill reduces the federal deficit by $23 billion over the next 10 years, including $4 billion in savings from federal food stamp costs.

However, the AP also notes that obstacles to passage are greater in the GOP-controlled House Not surprisingly, Stabenow’s achievement was in submerged in media coverage by two far more dramatic events:

The Holder flap is not likely to be an issue in Stabenow’s bid for a third term.  But Obamacare certainly will be.  Ex-U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the leading contender for the GOP nomination to challenger to oppose her, has made that clear.

Ex-U.S. 1st District Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, who was a key vote and negotiator in Obama winning approval of the 2010 health care reform bill, told The Detroit News he felt validated by the court ruling. He called it “a big win for the American people.”  “Doctor Dan” (bf) That’s how staffers of freshman Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, refer to their bos ,who replaced Stupak.. That figures. He’s been a practicing physician for 30 years.

As such, he has strong views on Obamacare, calling it, in a chat we had last week,  “bad medicine.” Benishek has been a leader in Washington on a subject that deserves more  attention that it has received—medical and other programs for returning veterans.