Well… it was only a matter of time till Nancy Pelosi was forced to blink on her refusal to deal with the corruption of Charlie Rangel. I suspect the final straw was the Congressional Black Caucus member who, yesterday, called for Rangel to step down. The DEM-on-DEM heat was greater than Pelosi could bear.
This special interest funded trip to the Caribbean for which Rangel has been officially censured is the least of Rangel’s hanging problems. Not paying taxes is going to hang him… when the Ethics Committee finally finds they can no longer cover for him with delays.
From the Wall Street Journal:
WASHINGTON—Rep. Charles Rangel said he is temporarily stepping aside as the chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee.
In a brief, televised statement Wednesday, Mr. Rangel said he asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a “leave of absence” as chairman of the powerful tax-writing committee. “From the beginning I have offered this to Speaker Pelosi,” he said.
Mr. Rangel, a New York Democrat, has been battling a series of ethics charges in recent months. Last week, the House ethics committee found he broke congressional rules by not properly disclosing trips to the Caribbean that were paid for by companies.
With Democratic opposition on the rise, Mr. Rangel met late Tuesday with senior House Democrats, including Ms. Pelosi. The party leaders told Mr. Rangel they didn’t think he had enough votes to survive a vote on the House floor, according to an aide.
In the meeting, Mr. Rangel refused to quit as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and instead said he’d think overnight about the matter before deciding whether to step down or face an uncertain vote.
After the one-hour meeting broke, Mr. Rangel told reporters he would stay on.
“You bet your life,” he said. Pressed further, Mr. Rangel, raising his voice, said emphatically: “Yes, and I don’t lie to the press.” Ms. Pelosi’s office declined to comment.
The defections stem from the party’s fear that it can’t continue to defend even a powerful lawmaker in such a volatile political climate without paying a price. Democrats are facing the prospect of losses in the year’s midterms, and even loss of control of one or both chambers.
“I think we’re in a zero-tolerance atmosphere, and I think…Washington should be held to the highest ethical standards,” said Rep. Paul Hodes, (D., N.H.), who is running for the Senate. “I have the greatest admiration for Mr. Rangel’s service to this country. He’s been a great public servant. This is very, very unfortunate, but I think it’s necessary.”
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