Republicans to Attempt to Strip Rangel's Gavel

Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, will introduce a special resolution Wednesday that could potentially relieve Rep. Charlie Rangel of his chairmanship of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Fox News has learned.

Late last week, the House ethics committee "admonished" the New York Democrat for taking two trips to the Caribbean that were paid for by corporate sponsors. The ethics panel approved the trips but still disciplined Rangel, saying his staff tried to brief him on who was footing the bill.

The ethics committee is still reviewing a host of other allegations against Rangel, ranging from his failure to pay taxes on a villa in the Dominican Republic to his use of congressional stationery to raise donations for his school of public service at City College of New York.

As has been the case when similar measures have come to the House floor, most Republicans are expected to vote for the resolution, with most voting Democrats against it. But things are different this time around for the Harlem Democrat. A handful of Democrats have publicly called for Rangel to give up his gavel on the Ways and Means panel.

"If this was only them (the Republicans), he would be fine," said a senior Democratic aide who asked not to be identified. "This is the other shoe."

The GOP effort to oust Rangel is called a "privileged" resolution, meaning it goes to the front of the legislative line. It must be considered immediately or within 48 hours.

Republicans have tried several similar efforts to relieve Rangel of his chairmanship over the past two years. Each time, the majority Democrats have moved to table, or set aside the GOP resolution. That means the actual vote has not been on whether to take away Rangel's gavel, but on whether or not to consider the Republican resolution.

With unrest about Rangel among rank-and-file Democrats, its unclear if the Democratic leadership team will allow the actual Rangel resolution to be voted on.

"This train is coming down the tracks," said a senior Republican House aide.

Reps. Paul Hodes, D-N.H., Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., Bobby Bright, D-Ala., Gene Taylor (D-Miss., Mike Quigley, D-Ill.,, Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, and Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., have called on Rangel to give up his post.

Reporters Tuesday asked House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. if he thought Rangel could survive a vote of no confidence.

"I think he could," Hoyer said.