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Newer House Dems under pressure on Rangel

By Perry Bacon Jr.
House Democrats elected in 2006 and 2008 are under more pressure than many of their colleagues to side with Republicans as the GOP seeks to strip embattled Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) of his chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee.

Many of those members won races over the past two campaign cycles by casting themselves as reformers running against Republicans tarnished by ethics scandals, and the GOP is demanding they now live up to a pledge by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to end what she called the "culture of corruption" that prevailed when Republicans ran the House.

"These Democrats who ran on 'change' and promised to run the most ethical Congress in history have a responsibility to call for Charlie Rangel's resignation and to give back the thousands in tainted money they received from him," said Ken Spain, communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Only two Democrats backed the GOP's efforts last year to remove Rangel from his committee post. But since the House ethics committee admonished Rangel on Friday for violating congressional gift rules, a number of the newly-elected members have distanced themselves from the lawmaker, including Class of 2006 member Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H) and Walt Minnick (D-Idaho), who was elected two years ago.

Hodes called for Rangel to step down from this committee chairmanship, while Minnick's campaign said he would donate to charity a $10,000 donation from Rangel.

"Given the ethics committee finding, it seemed like an appropriate thing to do," said John Foster, a spokesman for Minnick's campaign. Foster was not sure if Minnick would support a GOP resolution to strip Rangel of his chairmanship.

Aides in both parties expect at least a dozen Democrats to defect from Rangel, who violated House rules by attending Caribbean conferences in 2007 and 2008 that were funded in part by corporations.

Rangel, 79, also faces accusations that he failed to disclose thousands in assets, improperly used congressional stationery to solicit donations for an academic center bearing his name at a New York college, and used multiple, rent-controlled apartments in Harlem in violation of city law.

But party leaders, including Pelosi, have said lawmakers should wait until the ethics committee completes its review of those matters before deciding Rangel's fate, and the chairman himself has said he will remain in his post and seek reelection this fall.

Fewer than ten Democrats have said they would vote out Rangel, leaving Republicans about 30 short of the number they would need to strip him of the chairmanship.

By Perry Bacon Jr.  |  March 2, 2010; 3:52 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Ethics  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Jerry Brown announces he will run for Calif. governor's seat
Next: Rangel: I'm staying as Ways and Means chairman


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Posted by: qitkonlyyou | March 2, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

This is a no brainer. Charlie is a crook. Charlie needs to get the boot. The idiots in his district may not care if he's a crook, but the rest of us don't want this criminal heading ANY committee, much less the ways & means committee.

Posted by: brattykathyi1 | March 2, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

the ethecis committe should not be wondering about what disapline.rangle and frank should booth be thrown out of congress. they are poster boys for what is wrong with congress.some more of the proof on the dems change for the better.

Posted by: dagner49 | March 2, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Ol' Charlie will be reelected because he may be a crook, but he's OUR CROOK, say the constituents. And Nanny Pelosi will probably be able to keep him a gavelin' and jawin' at Ways and Means until the investigations "are complete," which no doubt includes Ol' Charlie's lengthy legal response, etc. It's not too hard to see the results being made public about the time the Deficit Commission reports, or actual health care reforms come into operation (would that be 2018? 2015? I've lost track).

Meanwhile Nanny Pelosi is searching for a new definition of the swamp she promised to drain, and I'm sure one will be forthcoming very soon.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | March 2, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

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