Charlie Rangel has temporarily stepped aside as Chairman of House Ways and Means (the counterpart to Senate Finance). From CNN:
The 20-term New York Democrat told reporters he had submitted a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requesting a temporary leave of absence until a broad-reaching House ethics committee investigation concludes.
Rangel had told reporters Tuesday night he had no plans to step aside from his powerful post. The Ways and Means Committee is responsible for drafting the nation's tax policies.
Rangel is being investigated for, among other things, failing to pay taxes on a home in the Dominican Republic. He was formally admonished Friday by the House ethics committee for violating rules on receiving gifts. Specifically, the committee found that Rangel violated House gift rules by accepting reimbursement payments for travel to conferences in the Caribbean in 2007 and 2008.
Politico says , “With Rangel stepping aside, it's not clear who will take the chairmanship.” CNN says not so fast: "A source told CNN on Tuesday that if Rangel stepped aside, senior Ways and Means Democrat Pete Stark would take over as the committee's chairman 'on a temporary basis.'" First Read adds, "Eventually, it's probably going to be [Rep. Sandy] Levin, but Stark may get it temporarily if Rangel simply gives it up temporarily. But for the long term, Levin is the preferred choice among the Dem leadership. And even if Stark gets the gavel, his health problems may prevent him for truly running the committee, giving Levin de facto control."
This is allegedly a temporary “leave of absence,” but then again, Tom DeLay always planned on returning to his leadership post, too.
This is a wonderful turn of events. We don’t need the albatross of corruption around our party’s neck come November, and we don’t need it around our government’s neck, well, ever. Rangel, corrupt or not, is a buffoon who doesn’t grasp important policy details, doesn’t pay attention to ethics rules, and vehemently denies that a Congressman is responsible for his staff. We don’t need that in Congress.
It took an indictment to strip Bill Jefferson of his plum assignments. It’s good to see our party moving in the right direction on this – tougher action, and for no less than a close ally of the Speaker. That's not only tougher action than we've taken with other members in recent memory, it's also more than anything the Republicans can claim they did in 2006.
The new, “temporary” Chairman, Pete Stark, has a history of controversial and racially insensitive statements. He’s also no ethical peach himself, currently under investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics for his own tax issues. The National Journal says he is but the 140th most liberal member of Congress. Still, anyone’s got to be better than Rangel, even if not by much.