Sander Levin, not Pete Stark, will be “acting” chair of HWMC

Via Fox News:

Rep. Sander Levin has been tapped to replace Charlie Rangel as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, after Democratic lawmakers had second thoughts about elevating another lawmaker who was technically next in line to the post.

Levin, a Michigan Democrat, was talked about as a potential replacement Wednesday shortly after Rangel announced he would step down amid a wide-ranging ethics probe. But then New York Rep. Pete Stark, the next most-senior member to Rangel on the panel, emerged as the likely candidate.

This decision, however, had many Democrats fretting, since Stark was seen by some as too volatile to lead such an important committee. His racially, sexually and politically charged remarks have gotten him in trouble in the past.

Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., said after a meeting Wednesday that members wanted a consensus candidate. They met again Thursday to make their final decision.

Though Levin will be “acting” chairman provided the full House approves the shift, it’s unclear whether Rangel’s departure is temporary. The entire chamber would have to approve any attempt by Rangel to return to the post.

Levin may be considered a safer choice for the job than Stark.

Rangel, who was admonished last week by the ethics committee over corporate funding of several trips he took to the Caribbean, said Wednesday that he was stepping down to avoid being a distraction, but Stark — in the few hours he was considered for the job — was already filling that void.

The Republican National Committee blasted out an e-mail Thursday morning containing a slew of Stark’s controversial commentary from the past two decades, calling him a “walking YouTube clip.”

In one notable quote, Stark, who is white, called former Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan, who is a black, a “disgrace to his race” back in 1990. He later said Sullivan was being “programmed” by the “overseers on the Sununu plantation.” He was referring to then-White House Chief of Staff John Sununu.

In a famous 2007 incident on the House floor, Stark also accused President Bush of sending troops to Iraq”to get their heads blown off for the president’s amusement.”

It’s all about politics, folks …

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