Rangel is out; Levin is in. What does it mean for you?


Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), the enigmatic Representative from Harlem, has won every political challenge to his seat since 1971, often by as much as 90%. This week, however, he faced a challenge he couldn't possibly win: a vote by the Republicans to oust him as Chairperson from the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. With defeat almost a certainty, Rangel backed down from perhaps the most important vote of his career. Despite announcing the night before, "You bet your life," when asked if he was going to remain as chair, Rangel resigned as Chairperson of the Committee on March 3.

Rangel ascended to what is considered the most powerful seat in Congress (perhaps more powerful than Speaker of the House) in 2006 after a major shift in Congress. The Democrats took control of the House, and Rangel was voted in as Chair of House Ways and Means Committee; he was the first African American to hold that distinction.

Rangel would not be seated long before controversy would find him. The most damning charges, however, would come in 2008 when Rangel admitted, after an investigation, that he did not report $75,000 in rental income for a property in the Dominican Republic on federal income tax. He claimed the oversight was the result of not understanding the tax laws. It was, however, a particularly embarrassing admission for the Democrats, considering Rangel's post meant he headed the committee that wrote tax policy for the nation. What kind of example was he setting for taxpayers?