A Question of Ways & Means? Should Rep. Charles Rangel Challenge the House Seniority System to Land a Coveted Position of Power?

By McCoy, Frank | Black Enterprise, April 1994 | Go to article overview

A Question of Ways & Means? Should Rep. Charles Rangel Challenge the House Seniority System to Land a Coveted Position of Power?


McCoy, Frank, Black Enterprise


Should Rep. Charles Rangel challenge the House seniority system to land a coveted position of power?

Can you imagine having a once-in-a-lifetime career pinnacle in sight and not reaching for it? Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) can.

The Harlem congressman may be poised to become chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has broad jurisdiction over revenue, tax and entitlement programs. Landing the position would make Rangel, 63, one of the most powerful politicians in the nation and the most influential African-American elected official. But Rangel must consider carefully how he goes after the post so as not to disrupt the House seniority system or harm the steady ascent of his Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) colleagues.

Rangel, serving his 12th term in Congress, chairs the Ways & Means subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures and is also on the subcommittee on Oversight. The Harlemite was thrust into contention by the slow-motion fall of incumbent committee chairman Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.). Rostenkowski has been under investigation during the past 18 months for alleged financial improprieties and may be indicted soon.

Rangel's response to the urging of friends and colleagues that he run to replace Rostenkowski: "There is no one on the Ways and Means Committee that would not aspire to become the chairman. …

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