House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., has temporarily stepped aside as chairman of the powerful tax-writing committee amid mounting calls for his resignation.
Last week the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct admonished him for violating ethics rules by not fully disclosing the names of companies that paid for him to attend conferences they sponsored in the Caribbean. Rangel has also been under under investigation by the ethics committee for not disclosing rental income on a vacation property he owns in the Dominican Republic, not paying $75,000 in taxes on the income, and using congressional stationery to raise funds from wealthy donors for City Colleges Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service in New York. Republicans had planned to schedule a vote on a resolution calling for him to be removed from his chairmanship of the committee.
Rangel had survived several similar previous votes last year with the support of Democratic colleagues, but up to 30 Democrats were reportedly planning to vote for his ouster in the latest vote, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Rangel met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other House Democrats on Tuesday, and informed reporters that he intended to remain at his post. However, on Wednesday morning, he sent a brief letter to Pelosi asking for a leave of absence.
I respectfully request a leave of absence from my duties and responsibilities as chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means until such time as the Committee on Standards completes its findings on the review currently underway, he wrote.
His successor has not yet been named. Next in line, in terms of seniority, is Rep. Peter Stark, D-Calif.
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