House Thwarts Effort to Strip Rangel’s Gavel

Posted October 7, 2009 at 1:44pm

The House on Wednesday stymied a Republican resolution to strip embattled Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) of his gavel, voting instead to refer the measure to the ethics committee.The resolution was referred on a 246-153 vote, split largely along party lines. Six Republicans voted with Democrats to refer the resolution to the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, two Democrats voted against referral, and 19 Members voted present. Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) reintroduced the privileged resolution that would have removed Rangel as Ways and Means chairman until the ethics committee concludes its investigation into his personal finances. After Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) asked that the resolution be referred to the ethics panel, Carter complained that Democrats did not want to debate the resolution on the floor. “It appears that once again we aren’t going to debate this issue,— Carter said before asking for a vote on Crowley’s motion. This is the second resolution Republicans have filed against Rangel. The first was killed in February when Democrats voted to table the legislation.The resolution listed numerous newspaper articles that detailed several instances where Rangel failed to properly report his income from rental properties on Congressional disclosure forms as well as on federal and state income tax forms. It also included several editorials that called for Rangel to step aside. The ethics committee is investigating four specific allegations against Rangel, including his lease of multiple rent-controlled apartments in Harlem, N.Y., his use of a House parking spot for long-term vehicle storage and his failure to report or pay taxes on rental income from a villa that he owns in the Dominican Republic. Rangel’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the resolution Wednesday but issued a statement last week about the Carter resolution saying the ethics committee must be allowed to do its work uninhibited by partisan attacks. “Congress has a comprehensive, bipartisan process for reviewing any allegations made against a Member — the House ethics committee. Chairman Rangel himself initiated the request for the committee to review the allegations made against him,— Elbert Garcia, Rangel’s New York spokesman said in a statement Sept. 30. “Any action to prejudge the outcome of that bipartisan process would unfairly undermine the work of the ethics committee.—Member conduct has been the subject of several House resolutions that have come to the floor in recent weeks. Democrats passed a resolution of disapproval against Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) last month after he yelled “You lie!— at President Barack Obama during Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) avoided a vote on his conduct on the House floor last week after Republicans decided to drop their resolution of disapproval. Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (Ga.) crafted the resolution after Grayson said during a speech on the House floor that the Republican health care reform plan was for sick Americans to “die quickly.— “Speaker Pelosi’s tacit endorsement of Mr. Grayson’s disgraceful antics makes securing a vote on a resolution a challenge,— Price spokesman Brendan Buck said. “We are not ruling anything out, but at this point the people of his district are probably in the best position to register their approval or disapproval of Mr. Grayson’s consistently embarrassing behavior.—