March 3, 2010 / 2:38 AM / in 8 years

Rangel to step down from key post in US Congress-NBC

WASHINGTON, March 2 (Reuters) - New York Democrat Charles Rangel, admonished last week by an ethics panel, will give up the powerful chairmanship of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives, NBC reported on Tuesday.

Three Democratic leadership aides told Reuters they were unable to confirm or comment on the NBC report. A fourth indicated that no announcements were planned for Wednesday.

NBC quoted a Democratic House member as saying the party did not have the votes to save Rangel, who has faced calls from Republicans and some Democrats to step down as chairman.

Representative Sander Levin of Michigan or Representative Pete Stark of California may temporarily take over from Rangel, NBC said, citing congressional leadership sources.

The Washington news outlet Politico said Rangel would keep his chairman’s gavel “for now.”

It said Rangel emerged from a closed-door meeting in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office Tuesday evening to declare he is still committee chairman.

Asked whether he would still be chairman tomorrow, said: “I can’t make all those promises at my age.” Rangel is 79.

Pelosi declined to comment when asked whether Rangel was resigning the chairmanship, Politico reported.

The House ethics committee publicly admonished Rangel last week for taking corporate-paid trips to the Caribbean in violation of the chamber’s gift rules.

Rangel noted that while the committee found that two of his aides knew that the trips were paid for by corporations, there was no indication that he himself was aware of it.

NBC quoted unidentified sources as saying Rangel has been encouraged to step aside before the House votes, as early as Wednesday, on a Republican measure to strip him of his chairmanship.

NBC said its reporter asked Rangel if he would still be chairman on Wednesday, and quoted him as replying, “Yes. You bet your life on it.”

The ethics panel, composed of three Democrats and three Republicans, is still looking into other matters involving Rangel, including his use of a rent-controlled apartment and his fundraising for the Charles Rangel Center for Public Service in New York.

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