Rangel Innocent Until Proven Guilty, Pelosi Says

Posted on October 10, 2009. Filed under: Charlie Rangel | Tags: , , , , , , |

A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that there is a “bipartisan process” in place that should be allowed to finish before the fate of Charles Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is decided.

By Cristina Corbin

Innocent until proven guilty — that’s why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refuses to remove New York Rep. Charles Rangel from his powerful chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee.

As the House Ethics Committee investigates a string of allegations against Rangel, who represents New York’s Harlem district, a spokesman for Pelosi said Friday that the “bipartisan process” should be allowed to finish before the congressman’s fate is decided. 

The committee voted unanimously Thursday to expand its probe of Rangel, who faces numerous allegations spanning several years, including alleged failure to pay taxes and disclose as much as $1.3 million in income that he earned from multiple properties.

Pelosi thinks removing Rangel from the chairmanship of the powerful tax-writing committee before the ethics probe is completed would undermine the American principle of innocent until proven guilty, said Drew Hammill, the speaker’s spokesman. He said Pelosi does not believe her decision weakens the public perception of congressional ethics. 

“We have a bipartisan process in place. It should be allowed to finish,” Hammill told FOXNews.com. “We are confident the committee will conduct a thorough review and then report to the full House.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer echoed Pelosi’s position, telling FOXNews.com that “yesterday’s statement shows that the bipartisan ethics committee is doing its work.”

A handful of House and Senate members have been the subjects of government ethics probes, and there appears to be no record of anyone ever being stripped from a committee role pending the outcome of an active investigation.

Sen. Robert Packwood, R-Ore., resigned from office in 1995, a day after the Senate Ethics Committee recommended he be expelled from office for abuse of power, including “repeatedly committing sexual misconduct” and “engaging in a deliberate… plan to enhance his personal financial position.”

In 1982, Sen. Harrison Williams, D-N.J., resigned after an ethics committee found that his conduct in the Abscam scandal, a public corruption investigation, was “ethically repugnant.” Williams — along with five members of the House and one member of the New Jersey State Senate — was convicted on numerous charges, including conspiracy, bribery, and conflict of interest.

Read more at FoxNews.com

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Democrats Hold Off GOP Attack On Rangel

Posted on October 9, 2009. Filed under: Charlie Rangel | Tags: , , , , , |

 Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) sat stone-faced as the House chamber buzzed around him, preparing to vote on a measure that could partly undo his almost four decades of work in Congress.

As Republicans pressed their attempt to remove him from his perch as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Democrats stood by Rangel — who is under investigation for a series of alleged violations that include improperly occupying several rent-controlled New York City apartments and not disclosing a laundry list of income and assets — and deflected the measure to committee.

They have stuck with Rangel repeatedly as the list of charges against him has grown, resisting any temptation to push aside a popular fixture in the party who helped found the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971. They have done so despite vows from Republicans to continue to force them to go on the record in defense of their colleague. But the issue carries complications for both parties.

Instead of full-throated defenses of Rangel, House Democrats measured their comments. Asked whether the controversy would have any negative impact on his party,  Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, sidestepped the question, saying that “the issue is making sure there is a fair process.”

Some Republicans, meanwhile, chafed at the sharp rhetoric aimed at Rangel, a jovial lawmaker who has many friends in both parties and is in a position to dole out favors on both sides of the aisle.

“There are some serious issues,” said Rep.  Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), who voted with the Democrats on Wednesday and said he was not ready to call for Rangel to give up his chairmanship. “But from what I know, there was no malice or malfeasance. He’s a war hero, he’s been here for 40 years, he’s a decent guy.”

Read the Rest at The WashingtonPost

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BREAKING: Catholic Bishops On Health Care – Change Bills Or Else

Posted on October 8, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , |

In a letter just released, the three Catholic bishops leading the Church’s efforts on health care warned Congress that “we will have no choice but to oppose the bill” unless current bills are amended.

The letter signed by Bishop William Murphy, Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop John Wester outlines three main areas of concern:  “that no one should be forced to pay for or participate in abortion, that health care should be affordable and available to the poor and vulnerable, and that the needs of legal immigrants should be met.”

Of those, of course, abortion poses the gravest threat to the bill.  The bishops simply don’t buy the argument that House Democrats found a way to block public funding for abortions with the Capps amendment, and they insist that the Hyde amendment doesn’t apply to the bills because they are not appropriations measures.  A sizable bloc of House Democrats, led by Bart Stupak of Michigan, agree and are pressuring for a clear prohibition on public funding.

Add this to the list of complications I outlined this morning. Here’s the Bishop’s letter.
 
– George Stephanopoulos

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Labor Unions Battle High-End Policy Tax

Posted on October 8, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , |

By SEAN HIGGINS, INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY

Prodded by Big Labor, House Democrats are rising up against Senate Democrats’ efforts to pay for President Obama’s health care overhaul in part via a tax on high-end insurance plans.

A total of 157 House Democrats — over 60% of the party’s 256-member caucus — sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Wednesday announcing their opposition to the tax.

Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., who organized the petition, said the tax would hurt too many middle-class people in addition to the wealthier people it is intended to hit.

“This would have an impact far wider than just the Paris Hiltons of the world,” Courtney told reporters Wednesday.

Their move creates the latest snag in the already-troubled efforts to pass a health care bill this year. Democratic leaders are struggling to balance various factions in crafting legislation. Now Big Labor is making its demands as well.

The Senate Finance Committee, led by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., last week included a 40% tax on insurance plans that would cost families more than $21,000 a year or individuals more than $8,000. The threshold would increase by 1% above inflation each year.

The thresholds would move to $26,000 and $9,850 respectively for people more than 55 years old and those in high-risk professions.

The tax would fall on insurers, but they would almost certainly pass that on to customers in the form of higher premiums.

Read the rest at Investors.com

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