Brief of the Week October 12, 2009

RANGEL SCANDALS STILL UNPUNISHED: To no one’s surprise, the motion on the House floor last week to strip Rep. Charles Rangel (D.-N.Y.) of his chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee failed. The resolution to take away the chairmanship at least until the House Ethics Committee concludes its investigation of the numerous charges that have been filed against Rangel was offered by Rep. John Carter (R.-Tex.), secretary of the House Republican Conference. It took Carter more than 15 minutes to read the nine pages of allegations of improprieties by Rangel that he has compiled. Nevertheless, his motion lost on a vote of 246 to 153. Only two Democrats, Mississippi Representatives Gene Taylor and Travis Childers, sided with 151 Republicans in favor of the motion. Six Republican House members voted with the Democrats to kill the motion: Walter Jones (N.C.), Peter King (N.Y.), Tim Murphy (Pa.), Ron Paul (Tex.), Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.), and Don Young (Alaska). “There are some serious issues, but from what I know there was no malice or malfeasance,” King insisted to reporters in explaining why he voted with fellow New Yorker Rangel. “He’s a war hero, he’s been here for 40 years, he’s a decent guy.” The Ethics Committee is investigating Rangel on matters ranging from failure to report rental property and money in other accounts that members of Congress are required to disclose on official forms and that he used official congressional stationery to solicit funds for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York. Nineteen other lawmakers voted “present” on the measure, which is the fourth Republican-backed attempt in 16 months to either censure Rangel or deny the 20-term lawmaker his chairmanship.