What Did GOP's Bid to Oust Charles Rangel Accomplish?

Article excerpt

Wednesday's Republican bid to oust Rep. Charles Rangel (D) of New York as chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee failed on a near party-line vote - and the outcome was never in doubt.

But in a highly polarized House, the significance of the move was not captured by the vote count. It was aimed to score political points by keeping corruption allegations against the majority party squarely in public sight - especially in the run-up to 2010 midterm elections.

"When the boss of the IRS, and the chairman of the House committee that controls the IRS, fail to pay their taxes and walk off without penalty, we have made a mockery of our tax system and the rule of law itself," said Rep. John Carter (R) of Texas, who sponsored the resolution. "Either this House repairs this damage, or the American people will have to replace this House."

At his own request, Chairman Rangel has been under investigation by the House ethics panel since Sept. 24, 2008, on allegations ranging from using a rent-controlled property in New York for a campaign office, trading favors for funds for the Charles B. Rangel Center at the City College of New York, and failing to report income on tax forms.

House Democratic leaders have stood by the chairman, who enjoys strong friendships on both sides of the aisle, and rebuffed calls for his resignation. House Republicans say it will cost them in midterm elections.

"Today's vote is just the latest example of Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi breaking her promise to have the 'most open and ethical' Congress in history," said House Republican leader John Boehner after the vote.

In response to this, Democratic leaders say that, unlike in the past, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct is issuing regular reports on how it has been proceeding. …