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Ethics-challenged Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel of New York Tuesday denied reports he would step down, at least temporarily, from chairmanship of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee until he deals with ethics questions over his acceptance of corporate-paid junkets, failures to disclose assets and problems with the IRS.
Rangel, after a private meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said “no” when reporters asked if he would step down as chairman. When asked if he was still chairman, Rangel shot back: “You bet your life.”
Some sources, however, still say Rangel will take a “leave of absence” from the job.
Pelosi offered no public comment following the meeting but Democratic insiders say the Speaker “urged” Rangel to consider stepping down “for the good of the party” and said he should step aside at least temporarily. Rangel refused.
Pelosi has come under fire from Republicans and some Democrats for her steadfast refusal to force Rangel out of the chairmanship. The Speaker, who promised to “drain the swamp” of Congressional corruption after Democrats took control of Congress in the 2006 elections, has drawn criticism for not taking actions against other Democrats for ethics violations.
Earlier on Tuesday, The Associated Press quoted a “Democratic source” who said Rangel would probably give up his chair “temporarily” at Pelosi’s request.
But Rangel held fast in his private meeting with Pelosi.
Even so, Rangel’s support is slipping with fellow Democrats. On Tuesday, Rep. Arthur Davis of Alabama, a member of Rangel’s committee and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, called on Rangel to resign his chairmanship.
Davis is not running for re-election, choosing instead to seek the governorship in Alabama. He has tried to distance himself from his ethically-challenged Congressional colleagues.