Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) apologized to the House for his ethical troubles Thursday but argued that the recommended censure for his conduct would be unprecedented, and Republican Rep. Peter King (N.Y.) rose to second that motion.
Rangel apologized for putting the House in “this awkward position today” and said that he should be sanctioned for violating House rules.
“There should be sanctions, but if you’re breaking new ground I ask for fairness. None of the precedents in the history of this great country has anyone ever suffered a humiliation of the censure when the record is abundantly clear and never challenged ... counsel on the committee found no evidence at all of corruption, find no evidence of self-enrichment.”
Rangel said he had no excuse for his failure to obey the rules.
“I take full credit for the responsibility of that, I brought it on myself, but I still believe that this body has to be guided by fairness.”
King said he felt the punishment of censure was too severe for Rangel’s misdeeds.
“Why are we departing so significantly from tradition and precedent in the case of Charlie Rangel?” asked a choked-up King, in an impassioned speech opposing the censure motion.
“Censure is an extremely severe penalty,” King said. “If expulsion is the equivalent of the death penalty, then censure is life in prison.”
“I am imploring you today to pause for a moment and step back to reflect,” King said. “Let us apply the same standard of justice to Charlie Rangel that has been applied to everyone else.”
Several Democrats then rose to echo the same points, and to oppose censure.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.