Rangel Takes ‘Leave of Absence’ From Top Chairmanship
March 3, 2010
(ChattahBox)— As expected, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), stepped down from his chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, amid numerous congressional ethics investigations, which were starting to close in on the colorful 20-term Harlem congressman. On Wednesday, Rangel called a news conference, announcing that he is voluntarily stepping down from the House panel on a temporary basis, while the ethics investigations continue.
During his hastily called news conference, Rangel, 79, announced he was stepping down from the House panel, but he did not take questions from reporters:
“My chairmanship is bringing so much attention to the press, and in order to avoid my colleagues having to defend me during their elections, I have this morning sent a letter” asking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “to grant me a leave of absence until such time as the ethics committee completes its work,” said Rangel.
“If you don’t mind, I don’t take questions,” said Rangel. He however, added that he told Pelosi “from the very, very beginning” that he was willing to step aside.
Rangel’s full letter to Speaker Pelosi can be found here.
Pelosi released a statement saying she had accepted Rangel’s request, and praised the veteran congressman for “his decades of leadership on jobs, health care, and the most significant economic issues of the day.”
Pelosi was under increasing pressure to remove Rangel from his powerful chairmanship, in the wake of her pledge to lead a House free of the taint of ethical violations, that have plagued Republicans.
The beginning of the end for Rangel, was last Friday’s finding by the House ethics committee that Rangel violated Congressional standards of conduct, by attending Caribbean conferences that were funded by corporations. Rangel was formally admonished by the committee for violating congressional gifts rules.
And with other investigations involving, Rangel’s failure to pay taxes on vacation property in the Dominican Republic, fundraising for a college center in his name, misuse of a rent-controlled apartment and his failure to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in investments; it was clear the other shoe was about to drop.
Both Republicans and Democrats called for Rangel to step down from his powerful post. Yesterday Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) met privately with Rangel to convince him to step down, as he was publicly announcing that he would stay put.
Now, Pelosi must tap Rangel’s replacement to head the House Ways and Means Committee. The possible replacement candidates, include Rep. Pete Start (D-CA) and Reps. Sander Levin (D-MI), Jim McDermott (D-WA,) John Lewis (D-GA) and Richard Neal (D-MA).