Democratic lawmakers turned back efforts by House Republicans to depose Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee after revelations of his tax and financial disclosure lapses led to an expanding ethics investigation.
Rangel survived two votes on a resolution to oust him from his chairmanship of the tax-writing committee until the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct completes its investigation. After House Democrats struck down the resolution Wednesday by a 246-153 vote, Republicans insisted on a second out-loud reading of the resolution, which catalogs Rangels financial lapses, and another vote. The reading was interrupted several times and challenged before the resolution was defeated a second time. Rangel sat in the front row throughout the vote.
Democrats charged that Republicans were not giving the House ethics committee time to finish its investigation of Rangel. The long-time Harlem representative had agreed to the ethics committee investigation after allegations emerged last year that he had failed to pay nearly $75,000 in taxes on rental income from a vacation property he owns in the Dominican Republic.
Rangel also was criticized for failing to disclose extra income he received and bank accounts on his congressional disclosure forms, as well as his use of several rent-stabilized apartments in his apartment building, and his efforts to get taxpayer money for City College and Yankee Stadium. I have been waiting patiently for the ethics committee to make a judgment, Rangel told The New York Times after the vote. That is where it belongs. It does not belong on the floor.
Rangel has dismissed the resolution as an attempt to sidetrack Congress in the midst of the Democrats' push for a health care reform bill. His committee approved the tax part of the bill on the House side prior to the August recess, and it will have to be reconciled with any bill that the Senate Finance Committee is able to pass.
John Carter, R-Texas, had introduced the resolution in the House. "Today the majority party in the House of Representatives approved a double-standard for taxpayers, one for powerful Washington politicians, and another for regular working Americans, he said. Chairman Rangel can neglect his taxes for years and pay no penalty or interest, while the American public faces massive penalty and interest charges for the same infractions. That was the judgment delivered by House Democrats today. Let the voters take note.
Carter added that Rangel in August made new confessions of failure to report nearly a million dollars in assets on federal disclosure forms. Since the ethics committee investigation of Rangel began in July 2008, it has already been expanded twice before the latest revelations emerged.
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