- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 7, 2009

UPDATED:

House Republicans tried unsuccessfully Wednesday to remove Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

Rep. John Carter, Texas Republican, who is secretary of the House Republican Conference, presented a resolution for a full House vote calling for the removal of Mr. Rangel, at least until the House Ethics Committee concludes its probe. However, the Democrat-controlled chamber sidestepped the issue by instead sending the matter to the Ethics Committee.

That committee is investigating Mr. Rangel on allegations of tax evasion, federal disclosure violations and other possible violations. But Republicans say the 16-month review has dragged on without resolution and that Democrats continue to block Mr. Rangel’s dismissal, amid the congressman’s own acknowledgment — in revised disclosure statements last month — that his net worth was roughly $500,000 more, or nearly double, what he previously had reported.

The vote passed 246 to 153, with 19 voting present. Mr. Rangel was among those who voted in favor of the resolution going to the committee.

“That’s where it belongs,” he said. “It doesn’t belong on the floor.”

Mr. Rangel, who called for the investigation, said he also is troubled by its duration.

“I’ve been waiting patiently,” said Mr. Rangel, the chamber’s fourth-longest-serving member. “Naturally, it is a thing that bothers me and my family.”

His committee oversees the IRS, and as chairman, Mr. Rangel is considered the country’s chief tax-code writer.

Reps. Gene Taylor and Travis W. Childers, both from Mississippi, were among the Democrats who voted with Republicans.

“These votes show that support for the Democratic leaders’ decision to sweep this matter under the rug is starting to crack,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican.

Among the allegations are that Mr. Rangel has failed to report income from rental property in the Dominican Republic and at least $250,000 in a checking account and that he used official congressional letterhead for donation requests for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York.

Mr. Carter tried the same tactic in February, but Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, voted to block consideration of the bill.

“We cannot tolerate a double standard in this country, one for the common man and another for the rich and powerful,” Mr. Carter, a former state judge, said before the vote. “To allow Mr. Rangel to continue to serve as chairman of the very committee with IRS oversight, without paying a nickel in penalties, and with no end in sight to his ethics investigation, sends a clear message to the American public that this government refuses to abide by the same laws they impose on the working people of this country.”

Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, New York Democrat, called the attempt to vote on Mr. Rangel’s removal “politics at its worst.”

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