GOP Thwarted; Rangel Escapes With His Job


rangelIt was a showdown in Congress.
Business came to a standstill yesterday as House Democrats and Republicans battled it out over whether to remove embattled Congressman Charles Rangel from his post of a powerful tax committee. Rangel is the fourth most senior member of the House, so it must have been acutely embarrassing to have all his dirty laundry aired before Congress. Allegation after allegation took a full 17 minutes to read, and that was just the first time.”The man who is in charge of writing the nation’s tax laws doesn’t pay his federal income or property taxes,” said Rep. John Carter, R-Texas.

Rangel wasn’t on the floor of the House yesterday afternoon for the resolution to dump him while his multiple ethics problems are probed. He was hiding out in the Ways and Means committee room, but his ears had to be ringing.

“He has such a poor grasp of his own finances that he neglects to list all of his assets in a disclosure form intended to keep members of Congress accountable and honest. We can hear the defense of the next tax deadbeat called into court. If Charlie Rangel doesn’t have to pay his taxes, why should I?” Carter said.

Democrats brushed back the third attempt to have Rangel step down while the long running — 16 months and counting — House ethics probe continues. But it had to be an acid indigestion moment for Rangel to have the list of his ethics problems read twice.

It’s as much a problem for House Democratic leaders as for Rangel himself.

Once by Congressman Carter, once by the clerk … for 30 minutes Democrats were helpless to stop it.

“Can any member of this body claim the privilege of the House for an hour based on something they read in the newspaper at any time they want?” Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-Queens, told CBS 2 HD.

The answer? Yes.

Later Congressman Rangel issued a statement through a spokesman claiming the resolution was an attempt to circumvent House rules.

“Let’s look at the resolution for what it really is,” said the spokesman “a highly partisan effort designed to undermine the important work in Congress on health care reform.”

New York Gov. David Paterson agreed.

“It’s a headline based on someone who is having problems,” Paterson said.

The popularity-challenged governor was asked if he’d be interested in Rangel’s seat if the congressman resigns or chooses not to run.

“You must be kidding,” was his response.

Afterwards Congressman Carter charged that Democrats had employed a double standard, saying its okay for Rangel to avoid paying taxes while regular Americans face massive penalties and interest charges for the same infractions.

 {CBS Broadcasting/ Newscenter}