- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 8, 2009

House Republicans came up short in a bid Wednesday to strip Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, of his post as chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee because of mounting ethical problems.

Texas Rep. John Carter, 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 Standards of Official Conduct Committee concludes its probe. However, the Democratic-controlled chamber sidestepped the issue by instead referring the resolution to the ethics panel.

The vote was 246-153, with two Democrats siding with the minority and 19 members voting “present.”

The ethics panel is investigating Mr. Rangel on allegations of tax evasion, federal disclosure violations and other possible violations, a probe the 20-term New York Democrat requested.

But Republicans say the 16-month review has dragged on without resolution and that Democrats continue to shield Mr. Rangel despite 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 reported.

Mr. Rangel was among those who voted in favor of referring the resolution to the committee.

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

The Ways and Means Committee is the House’s chief tax-writing panel and also oversees the Internal Revenue Service.

Reps. Gene Taylor and Travis W. Childers, both from Mississippi, were the two Democrats who voted against Mr. Rangel on Wednesday. A Republican aide said the vote showed support for Mr. Rangel was weakening.

“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.

Mr. Rangel faces allegations that he 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 to solicit donations for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York.

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