Levin to take over Ways and Means gavel

March 4, 2010 at 10:54 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 4 (UPI) -- The House Ways and Means Committee has a new chairman to replace Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., who stepped aside amid an ethics probe, a panel member said.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., will serve as the interim chairman of the powerful tax-writing committee, The Hill reported.

Rep. Bob Etheridge, D-N.C., said Pelosi made the announcement during a caucus meeting. Etheridge said Ways and Means members unanimously backed Levin, who is chairman of the panel's subcommittee on trade.

The announcement comes a day after Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., second in seniority on the panel, seemed poised to take over the chairmanship after Rangel announced he was temporarily relinquishing his gavel while an ethics panel investigated him. A leadership aide said Wednesday Pelosi had tapped Stark to fill the chairmanship.

Stark, an outspoken liberal, said he wanted to remain as the chairman of the subcommittee on health.

"I worked my whole career on this (health issues), and I don't want to" become chairman of the full committee, he told The Hill. "So Sandy moves up."

Rangel, 79, announced Wednesday he would temporarily step aside as the leader of Ways and Means while an ethics investigation of him moves forward. The House ethics committee announced last week that Rangel violated gift rules by accepting paid travel to the Caribbean. Several Democrats earlier this week called upon the New York Democrat to resign his chairmanship.

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