By Susan Crabtree - 09/30/09 04:31 PM EDT
House Republicans are threatening to introduce another resolution calling on House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) to give up his gavel in the wake of news reports that he amended his financial disclosure reports to show more than $600,000 in assets previously unreported.
Republican Conference Secretary John Carter (Texas) said he will give Rangel until next week to voluntarily resign the chairmanship or he will introduce a privileged resolution to force his removal.
Carter, a former judge, says the lack of any action by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) or the Democratic Caucus has forced the GOP to call on Rangel to relinquish the chairmanship of the House committee that oversees the IRS and the tax code.
Other Republicans, such as Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.), have called on Rangel to disclose his tax records to ensure that they do not contain similar reporting errors.
“There remains the question of whether these latest disclosure violations may be coupled with similar tax-reporting violations,” Carter continued. “If so, this case could bring further discredit to the House for its failure to act for months, and soon to be years, on end.”
Last fall Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) offered a privileged resolution aimed at censuring Rangel and forcing him to step down. It failed in a party-line vote. He also sent a letter in late August to Rangel calling on him to give up the gavel.
Boehner reiterated his call for Rangel to resign from Ways and Means while the ethics committee continues to conduct its work.
“Working families across America are struggling in today’s economy, and they need to have confidence that the individual in charge of the House’s tax-writing panel is following the laws the committee is charged with crafting and overseeing," Boehner said in a statement. "It is improper for Rep. Rangel to remain in a position with such vast power and influence while serious questions about his official conduct continue to multiply and go unanswered.
"Several weeks ago I wrote a letter to Rep. Rangel asking him to step aside while the ethics committee conducts its investigation. He has not done so, and his fellow Democrats have voted to protect him every step of the way," Boehner added.
"Congress has a comprehensive, bipartisan process for reviewing these matters. Chairman Rangel himself initiated the request for the Ethics Committee to review the issues that have been raised," a Rangel spokesman said. "Any action to prejudge the outcome of that bipartisan process would unfairly undermine the work of the Ethics Committee."
"This is nothing more than a partisan stunt to distract from the GOP's lack of ideas to improve America's health care system and help our economy recover."
House GOP sources said the threat is retaliation for Democrats' resolution of disapproval against Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) for yelling, "You lie!" during President Barack Obama's recent address to Congress.
The House ethics committee is investigating Rangel for several alleged violations of House rules and has expanded its probe twice since it was first launched in July of last year. Among other accusations, the panel is looking into whether Rangel improperly used his congressional letterhead to solicit donations for an education center bearing his name, which could violate House rules. Other allegations include failing to report $75,000 worth of rental income on a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic.
Rangel has denied any wrongdoing, initiated the ethics probe himself and attributed the financial irregularities to sloppiness.
The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Buffalo News and other media outlets have called for Rangel to step down as chairman.