Congressional Black Caucus Objects to Rangel's Removal

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is facing a new conundrum as the swell of voices calling for the removal of House Ways & Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) begins to build.

Sources on the Hill tell HUMAN EVENTS that the latest problem involves the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and their objection to Rangel’s ouster as the first member of their caucus to hold the chairmanship of the very powerful tax writing committee. 

To complicate matters, one source says the CBC is pressuring Pelosi to give the slot to another CBC member, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).  The main problem with that scenario is she’d have to “reach down five people,” passing over three other committee members in line to do so:  Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.).

Stark is a 78-year-old bombastic Californian notorious for his lack of decorum.  One source told me, “Pelosi really doesn’t want to see Stark in the chairmanship.”

At a town hall meeting over the summer a constituent told Stark, “Don’t pee on my leg and then tell me it’s raining.” Stark replied to the senior citizen, “I wouldn’t dignify you by peeing on your leg. I wouldn’t waste the urine.”

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, “Stark once called the American Medical Association a bunch of ‘greedy troglodytes.’ He assailed one Republican colleague as ‘a whore for the insurance industry,’ called another a ‘fascist’ and a third a ‘fruitcake.’ Recently, when a pesky journalist asked the same question too many times, Stark threatened to throw him out the window.”

Another Hill staffer close to the arena told me on condition of anonymity, “Pelosi’s choice is between unethical and crazy.  It’s tough to decide which is better.”

Pelosi could likely justify stepping over Stark and his behavior, yet the next two in line, Levin and McDermott, don’t have the issues their colleague has.  It will be interesting to note which Democrat members of the committee support an affirmative action policy when it’s the committee chairmanship at stake.

One thing is certain: Rangel’s corruption issues are causing severe damage to the Democrat Party in the election year.  This initial ethics finding was only the first shoe to drop.  Rangel remains under investigation for more serious charges including income tax violations. 

As the New York Times pointed out in their third editorial demand for Rangel’s gavel over the weekend. 

“Congressman Charles Rangel was far from humbled after the ethics committee admonished him for taking corporate-paid Caribbean junkets in violation of the House ethics code. Rather, the New York Democrat berated the panel’s leaders on the House floor.

“The moment was characteristic of Mr. Rangel’s arrogance throughout the investigation, which continues into more serious allegations about his official behavior.  It is one more reason why Speaker Nancy Pelosi — who championed ethics reform — should stop protecting him and relieve him of his crucial role as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.”

Harsh words for a Democrat from the New York Times of all places.

Leaving Rangel in place keeps the CBC from exploding at a time when Pelosi needs every single vote she can get for Democrats’ proposed government takeover of health care.  How much more are Democrats willing to sacrifice?

Rep. John Carter (R-Tex.), secretary of the House Republican Caucus, plans to force the issue this week in a vote on Rangel’s removal before the full House.  Carter’s office confirmed to HUMAN EVENTS that the former judge will drop a privileged resolution “mid-week” seeking Rangel’s removal from the Ways & Means chairmanship until all investigations are completed.  They expect to pick up more votes from Democrats on the resolution, but just how many will vote for his removal at this point is unknown.  Carter plans to find out.

At deadline, seven Democrats had publically called for Rangel’s removal.