Sander Levin, chair of Ways and Means, forms powerful brother duo

Sander Levin is now part of one of the most powerful brother acts in Washington since the Kennedys. He was named the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Thursday. His brother, Carl, is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Rep. Sander Levin (D) of Michigan (on left) stands beside his brother, Sen. Carl Levin (D) of Michigan, at a Washington rally for auto workers who have lost their jobs in this May 14, 2009 file photo.

Rep. Sander Levin (D) of Michigan now forms one-half of the most powerful brother team on Capitol Hill in decades.

Mr. Levin was chosen Thursday by House Democratic leaders to be chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, replacing Rep. Charles Rangel (D) of New York, who has stepped aside while the House ethics panel probes his fundraising and finances.

Levin is a veteran lawmaker from Royal Oak, Mich., a Detroit suburb off famed Woodward Avenue that is home to many auto workers and executives. He is also the older brother of Sen. Carl Levin (D) of Michigan, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

To have siblings running two of the most important panels in US government is unprecedented. It’s certainly unprecedented for Michigan, a state struggling with unemployment due to auto industry bankruptcies and restructuring.

It’s not quite like the Kennedys – who had John F. Kennedy as president and his brother Robert as attorney general – but it may be close.

Sander Levin was not the obvious choice to run the tax-writing Ways and Means panel. Rep. Pete Stark (D) of California is a more senior Ways and Means Democrat.

But Levin, first elected in 1982, is a consensus builder with a moderate demeanor, as is his brother. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a meeting of House Democrats Thursday that Levin was her pick for post left open by Mr. Rangel’s troubles.

Levin will serve until Rangel’s troubles are resolved or a new Congress convenes next year. He issued a statement saying he looks forward to moving “vigorously” on an agenda that includes jobs, economic development, and healthcare.

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