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Tax-reform advocate Camp won't seek re-election to U.S. Congress

House Ways and Means Committee chair Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) (L) confers with ranking member Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) before their hearing on
House Ways and Means Committee chair Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) (L) confers with ranking member Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) before their hearing on

By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Representative Dave Camp, who tried and failed this year as chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee to initiate an overhaul of the U.S. tax code, said on Monday he would not seek re-election in November.

"This decision was reached after much consideration and discussion with my family," the 12-term, 60-year-old Michigan Republican said in a statement issued by the committee.

Camp said that during his final nine months in Congress, he would seek reform on a number of fronts, including "fixing our broken tax code."

In February, Camp floated a draft plan to rewrite the tax code for the first time since 1986. It generated plenty of discussion, but little action.

"Blah, blah, blah, blah," House Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, told reporters when asked about it.

Under Camp's plan, the number of categories for U.S. income tax rates would be reduced to three from seven. He also called for eliminating a wide range of tax breaks.

Critics said his proposal would help the rich at the expense of the poor. Camp disagreed and argued a more streamlined tax code would unleash stronger economic growth that would benefit all Americans.

There appears to be little, if any, chance that the full House will consider any of Camp's proposals any time soon. His decision to retire may further reduce expectations of a sweeping overhaul of the tax code.

Last year, Camp worked with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana to craft a bipartisan tax reform plan. But those efforts failed, and Baucus later retired from Congress and became U.S. ambassador to China.

Camp has been chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee since 2011 when Republicans took control of the House of Representatives from President Barack Obama's Democrats.

Camp was already scheduled to step aside as chairman in January when his six-year term limit in the post ends.

Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the losing Republican vice presidential nominee in 2012, has long expressed an interest in replacing Camp as chairman of the committee.

Ryan now chairs the House Budget Committee, and, like Camp, has a six-year term limit in the post that ends in January. There had been talk of Ryan and Camp swapping jobs.

Camp was the second Republican House committee chairman in as many weeks to announce he would retire from Congress at the end of his term in January, following Mike Rogers, also of Michigan, who heads the House Intelligence Committee.

Camp is the 24th Republican and 41st member of the House to announce he is not seeking re-election in November. Republicans hold the House 233-199, with three vacancies.

(Reporting by Thomas Ferraro, Richard Cowan and Patrick Temple West; Editing by Doina Chiacu, Peter Cooney and Mohammad Zargham)

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