Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) will take the chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee and Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) will step aside, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told the Democratic Caucus on Thursday morning, sources in attendance said.
Stark, the No. 2 Democrat on the panel, has been serving as acting chairman since Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) surrendered the gavel Wednesday. Pelosi explained the switch to Democrats on Thursday by saying Stark preferred to keep the reins of the panels Subcommittee on Health. But it became clear after hours of meetings by Democrats on the panel Wednesday that Stark who has a history of off-color remarks and ethics issues of his own lacked support for moving into the chairmanship.
Aides familiar with the panels huddles Wednesday said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and House Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.), both Ways and Means members, made the case to Stark that he would be an inviting target for Republicans and a distraction for politically endangered Democrats if he assumed control.
Levin, 78, is considered a solid liberal and the partys leading authority on trade issues. He has helmed the panels Subcommittee on Trade.