Embattled Rep. Charles Rangel on Tuesday declined to endorse a candidate in the Democrats' heated battle for minority whip, but said that he hoped both men remain in leadership posts.
Rangel (N.Y.) did not endorse Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) for the post, unlike the Congressional Black Caucus, of which both are members. But he did predict that both Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the current majority leader and potential minority whip, and Clyburn, the current whip, would reach a compromise.
"It's not going to come to a vote. We can't afford a vote," Rangel told the New York Observer.
"To me it's like musical chairs, where they just move the damn chair away," he added. "If I had my druthers, I'd just put another chair up there. What the hell?"
Rangel, who faces a House trial on multiple ethics charges when Congress returns next week, has diminished influence within the Democratic caucus, but his comments reflect the sentiment of some lawmakers who want to see both Clyburn and Hoyer in the minority leadership next year.
But a compromise might be difficult considering that Democratic caucus Chairman John Larson (D-Conn.) and Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) both plan to remain at their posts.
The campaign between Clyburn and Hoyer took a bitter turn on Tuesday, when the former accused the latter of making other Democrats uncomfortable with his public campaign. Hoyer leads Clyburn about four-to-one, according to an informal whip count.
Rangel, who said he supports Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for minority leader in the next Congress, said that the Democratic caucus cannot become polarized over the race for her number two.
"I want to be convinced that the leadership knows this has to be resolved without the polarization that naturally would take place coming from two people, coming from different parts of our diverse caucus," he said.