Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) today introduced a resolution calling for embattled New York Rep. Charlie Rangel to be stripped of his chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Multiple accusations are being leveled at Rangel, including questions about his dealings with a developer who leased rent-controlled apartments and the possible improper use of his House office to raise campaign funds. He's also facing questions over incomplete financial-disclosure forms. Republicans have argued for some time that Rangel should resign his chairmanship, with no success. This is their third attempt at forcing him to do so, and like the others, this one was unsuccessful.
Lawmakers voted to send today's resolution to the House ethics committee for further consideration, thus relieving House Democrats of making tough choices about their colleague. They'll instead wait for the committee to complete its investigation into Rangel. Given the large Democratic majority in the House, and Speaker Pelosi's support of Rangel, the measure was never going to pass. Still, Republicans were hoping to force a roll-call vote, putting Democrats on the record as supporting their dubious peer. That's nice fodder for a 2010 campaign, where ethics could prove to be the Achilles' heel for Democrats. The GOP failed to get that vote, but Carter did get to read his resolution aloud—and quite a damning resolution it is. Carter quotes from several damaging news reports and columns, including this gem from the Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen:
Rangel is now the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and a man of immense importance in Washington. Nonetheless, he has been busy of late revising and amending the record, backing and filling, using buckets of Wite-Out as he discovers or remembers properties he has owned in New York, New Jersey, Florida, the Dominican Republic and God only knows where else. Rangel recently even discovered bank accounts that no one in the world, apparently including him, knew he had. One was with the Congressional Federal Credit Union; another was with Merrill Lynch—each valued between $250,000 and $500,000. He somehow neglected to mention these accounts on his congressional disclosure forms, which means, if you can believe it, that when he signed the forms, he did not notice that maybe $1 million was missing. Someone ought to check the lighting in his office.