Top Democrat on Ways and Means to step down from post

Top Democrat on Ways and Means to step down from post

The Associated Press reports that Neal told House Democrats that he is interested in the position of ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee.

Rep. Sander Levin of MI said in a letter to his Democratic colleagues late Tuesday that it was time for younger member to assume leadership positions.

"Second, I want to be free to focus in addition to tax reform on two of my legislative passions: health care and trade", he added.

Rep. Xavier Becerra of California and Rep. Richard Neal of MA have informed Democrats they are interested in the top job on Ways and Means, which plays a crucial role in tax reform and health care. California Congressman Xavier Becerra- who is now term-limited out of his position as conference chairman- has also told Democratic members of the House that he wants to be ranking member on Ways and Means. Becerra is the outgoing chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

"I'm backing Xavier", Levin said simply. California Rep. Kevin Brady is the current chair of the committee. He was chosen to be ranking member after the 2010 election. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Neal's leadership political action committee raised $382,000 and closed with cash on hand of $847,000 in the 2016 cycle, and Becerra's leadership PAC raised $564,000 and closed with $94,000 in the same period.

Levin's move came ahead of House Democratic leadership elections Wednesday in which Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi faces a challenge from Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan.

"Our caucus is deeply grateful for Sandy Levin's leadership on Ways and Means, and we will continue to be strengthened by his wisdom as Republicans begin their assault on Medicare and the health care of 20 million previously uninsured Americans", Pelosi said in a written statement. Younger and newer members have complained about the Democrats' seniority system and their lack of influence in top decisions.