Rep. Charlie Rangel has suffered one final indignity in his long fall from grace: The New York Democrat, a 40-year veteran of the House, won’t lead his party’s forces even on a subcommittee.
House Democrats released their subcommittee lineups for the tax-writing Ways and Means panel Wednesday, and Rangel, a former chairman of the full committee, didn’t even bother competing for a ranking-member slot.
“I think he decided he wasn’t going to be elected,” one fellow Ways and Means Committee member told POLITICO, noting that the decision to avoid a fight saved Rangel and Democrats the “embarrassment” of re-hashing the censure he received from the House last year for violating ethics rules.
At one point it seemed Rangel could fall no further: By the end of the 111th Congress in December, he’d been stripped of the chairmanship of one of the most powerful congressional committees, shunned by his own Democratic colleagues and subjected to the public shame of a censure on the House floor.
While the punishment officially ended with the close of the last Congress, Rangel’s colleagues aren’t ready to put him back in a position of influence.
As a nod to his status, Republicans and Democrats have agreed to give him ex-officio standing on all subcommittees, meaning he can sit in on hearings and ask questions but not cast votes.
“I think it was the right decision for him,” said Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). “He was not under any pressure.”
Indeed, the burden would have been on Rangel to win approval in a bid for the ranking Democratic position on a subcommittee.
He outranks the top Democrats on all six subcommittees: California’s Pete Stark at Health, Washington’s Jim McDermott at Trade, California’s Xavier Becerra at Social Security, Texas’s Lloyd Doggett at Human Resources, Lewis at Oversight and Massachusetts’s Richard Neal at Select Revenue Measures.
But, according to sources familiar with the committee, he didn’t have the votes to knock anyone else out of their desired post.
Last year, the ethics committee found him guilty of 11 counts of violating ethics rules, including charges that he acted improperly in raising money for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York, omitted hundreds of thousands of dollars in income and assets from disclosure forms, failed to pay taxes on income derived from a Dominican villa, and used a rent-stabilized apartment in Harlem as a campaign office.
Rangel’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
John Bresnahan contributed to this story