News / World

Top Democrat on Ways and Means to step down from post

WASHINGTON — Rep. Sander Levin, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, will not seek re-election to his panel post, clearing the way for a younger lawmaker to grab the spot on the powerful committee.

In a letter to his colleagues late Tuesday, the 85-year-old Levin informed them of his decision and said he wanted to do his part to ensure that the Democrats are united in stopping President-elect Donald Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as they try to take the country in a different direction and "turn back the clock on progress we have made."

"It is imperative that we support younger members as they seek to fully assume the mantle of leadership in the four years ahead, as we also continue to tap the experience of those who have led so many of these battles," Levin wrote.

Levin's move came ahead of House Democratic leadership elections in which Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi faces a challenge from Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan. Dispirited Democrats still reeling from the election results are trying to figure a way forward amid calls from younger members for new leadership. The elections are Wednesday.

Rep. Xavier Becerra of California and Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts 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.

In a statement, Pelosi thanked Levin and called him a "tireless champion for working families." She said he had been invaluable in preventing the privatization of Social Security and helping enact the health care law six years ago. Republicans have vowed to undo the law next year when Trump becomes president.