The Republican Rationale On Rangel

The fight over Rep. Charles B. Rangel's tenure atop the Ways and Means Committe got a little nasty Wednesday night, when the New York Democrat exchanged words with Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) on the House floor.

Following that dust-up, a Boehner aide sought to clarify the Republicans' reasons for seeking Rangel's temporary ouster until the ethics committee rules on three separate inquiries regarding Rangel's personal finances, his use of rent-stabilized apartments and a fundraising letter the chairman sent to wealthy New Yorkers on congressional stationery.

The issue, according to a top Boehner aide, is that Rangel should not have oversight over the agency that will ultimately arbitrate his failure to pay taxes on rental income from a beachfront condo in the Dominican Republic.

"Bottom line: Rangel should not be in a position overseeing the IRS while he is negotiating with the IRS over the size and degree of fines and other punishment he faces," Steel said. "It is an obvious and unavoidable conflict of interest."

Boehner, however, was not that explicit in his own remarks Wednesday night when he tried to explain his reasons for seeking Rangel's ouster during the chairman's public apology. And, by that logic, Republican Rep. Jerry Lewis of California, who formerly chaired the Appropriations Committee, should have recused himself from any work to fund the Department of Justice while the FBI was investigating his ties to a former lawmaker and prominent lobbyist.