Rep. Rangel remains political embarrassment

It’s no great surprise that Democrats protected one of their own Wednesday and rejected a GOP resolution to oust House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel of New York while he is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee.

Democrats, after all, maintain a solid majority in Congress, and they aren’t about to let the minority dictate who their committee chairman will be.

But Rangel remains an embarrassment to his party and Congress in general. He is chairman of the primary tax-writing committee in the House, yet he allegedly has failed to pay his own taxes and properly disclose income on property he owns in the Dominican Republic and elsewhere. He has admitted some of the errors, but said they stemmed from a misunderstanding.

Since then, as the rejected Republican resolution notes, various newspapers have discovered previously unreported properties Rangel owns in New Jersey and Florida. And the congressman has suddenly discovered previously undisclosed bank accounts that doubled his net worth.

On top of that, there are new reports that Rangel funneled a $3 million earmark in the Defense Appropriations Bill to the City College of New York to fund research into protecting Army vehicles from attack.

The response from Rangel’s team Wednesday was that the Republican attempt to oust him was “a highly partisan effort designed to undermine the important work in Congress on health care reform.”

Partisan it was. That’s how virtually everything is done in Washington these days. But an effort to undermine health care reform? Republicans don’t need Rangel for that effort.

Besides, it’s not just Republicans who have called for Rangel to step down as Ways and Means chairman. The New York Times and Washington Post have called for his removal as chairman until the Ethics Committee completes its work.

When that will be done is anybody’s guess. But, based on the evidence so far, Rangel has no business continuing to preside over one of the most important committees in Congress.


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