Charles Rangel on Government Reform
Leave of absence as committee chair for ethics investigation
Congressman, Charles Rangel from New York has taken a "leave of absence" from his position as head of the committee that writes our tax laws, is under an ethics committee investigation for alleged tax dodging, filing deficient financial disclosure forms,
and other charges. Although the committee "admonished" him--its weakest reprimand--for taking corporate-sponsored trips to the Caribbean, [While some] Democratic colleagues called for Rangel to step down as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee,
Speaker Nancy Pelosi stressed that Rangel's actions we "not something that jeopardized our country in any way." Is this the new ethical standard we were promised--that corruption is acceptable as long as it doesn't "jeopardize" the country?
Five others in Congress who took the same Caribbean trips as Congressman Rangel were cleared after claiming they did not realize the trips were sponsored by corporations, even though they repeatedly took pictures in front of corporate logos.
Source: To Save America, by Newt Gingrich, p. 59-60
, May 17, 2010
1974: On Watergate Committee, focused on Nixon's conviction
Nixon may not have known how Watergate started, but he certainly did know about and participate in the cover-up. As a former prosecutor, I was focused on what I saw as a clear path to his conviction. Barbara Jordan saw something bigger,
and we are all better for her vision. She believed in the Constitution and the individual rights it protects, and took that aspect of the investigation of Nixon's conduct a lot more seriously than I did.
Source: A Bad Day Since, by Charles Rangel, p.194
, Aug 5, 2008
GOP majority holds secret meetings for final bill drafting
Before the GOP took control of the House and Senate, senior Republicans and Democrats would meet with their committee staffs and work out differences to be brought to the table for the bipartisan conference to consider. The doors might be closed, but
everyone had some input into what was on the table.
But since Republicans took over, they call a ceremonial meeting to open the conference, quickly adjourn, then typically go off into secret meetings of their own. The fix--usually in favor of their
chosen special interests--is added there. On one such occasion, Bill Thomas (R, CA), the current chairman of Ways and Means, was chairing the official conference. But reports told me that he and the Republicans were meeting privately in his hideaway
office. I took my legislative papers & marched right in as though I was invited. They were so embarrassed that they just peeled off and left the room one by one, until the only one left was Thomas. There was nothing for him to do but adjourn the meeting.
Source: A Bad Day Since, by Charles Rangel, p.178
, Aug 5, 2008
It's obscene what money has done to Congress
Today money isn't just the mother's milk of politics, it IS their politics. But I had never needed money to hold my seat, so the whole idea of me making a commitment to someone because he or she gave me money was beyond me. Even black members, from our
traditionally safest seats, are not immune. Once, during a key Medicare vote, I had black Democrats tell me that white doctors supported them in primaries when blacks didn't. They told me that they had to support this hospital or that one, even though it
was out of line with common good, because it supported them when the party didn't.
It's obscene what money has done to the Congress. Just look at the number of millionaires in the Senate these days. The percentage has increased so much in the last
20 years that I think it's safe to say that you have to be one to be a senator. The senate was always a rich man's club, but look at the rising number of millionaires in the House, and the mounting cost of the average congressional campaign.
Source: A Bad Day Since, by Charles Rangel, p.215-216
, Aug 5, 2008
Voted YES on Senate pay raise.
Makes appropriations to the Senate for FY2010 for:Amends the Legislative Branch Appropriation Act of 1968 to increase by $50,000 the gross compensation paid all employees in the office of a Senator. Increases by $96,000 per year the aggregate amount authorized for the offices of the Majority and Minority Whip.
- expense allowances;
- representation allowances for the Majority and Minority Leaders;
- salaries of specified officers, employees, and committees (including the Committee on Appropriations);
- agency contributions for employee benefits;
- inquiries and investigations;
- the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control;
- the Offices of the Secretary and of the Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper of the Senate;
- miscellaneous items;
- the Senators' Official Personnel and Office Expense Account; and
- official mail costs.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D, FL-20): We, as Members of
Congress, have responsibility not just for the institution, but for the staff that work for this institution, and to preserve the facilities that help support this institution. We have endeavored to do that responsibly, and I believe we have accomplished that goal.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. SCALISE (R, LA-1): It's a sad day when someone attempts to cut spending in a bill that grows government by the size of 7%, and it's not allowed to be debated on this House floor. Some of their Members actually used the term "nonsense" and "foolishness" when describing our amendments to cut spending; they call that a delaying tactic. Well, I think Americans all across this country want more of those types of delaying tactics to slow down this runaway train of massive Federal spending. Every dollar we spend from today all the way through the end of this year is borrowed money. We don't have that money. We need to control what we're spending.
Reference: Legislative Branch Appropriations Act;
; vote number 2009-H413
on Jun 19, 2009
Election reform is #1 priority to prevent disenfranchisement.
Rangel adopted the CBC principles:
Source: Congressional Black Caucus press release 01-CBC7 on Jan 6, 2001
- Election Reform is the CBC’s Number One Legislative Priority. What happened in Election 2000 is no way to elect the President – the most powerful position in the world. For the sake of our democracy, it is imperative that Election Reform be the top priority of every Member of Congress, and every American. As the world’s oldest and leading democracy, the outcome of our elections should never be in doubt. We must ensure that every vote cast is counted and that everyone who is eligible to vote is allowed to vote. Election reform is not a black issue or white issue, it is a red, white & blue issue. Voting is the most fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution and must be protected.
- Voter Education and Participation. African-Americans turned out to vote in Election 2000 in record numbers, many for the first time. This accomplishment, however, was undercut by allegations of voter intimidation, inaccurate voter registration lists, flawed
ballot designs, and antiquated voting machinery. All of these problems led to confusion before, during and after the election. The CBC will partner with state & local governments, civic & religious organizations and higher education institutions to prevent voter intimidation, as well as to enhance and improve voter registration, education and participation.
- Congress Must Act. Congress has the power, authority and absolute obligation to assure that the apparent disenfranchisement does not ever happen again. The CBC is committed to passing a strong and effective election reform package. Legislation should address ballot design, modern voting machines, an accurate vote-counting mechanism that allows for recounts, the restoration of voting rights for ex-offenders, assistance for bilingual and disabled persons who vote, and ensure the most accurate voter registration rolls on election day so that every one who is eligible to vote can vote, and have that vote counted.
Allow same-day voter registration on election day.
Rangel co-sponsored the Same Day Voter Registration Act
To amend the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to require States to permit individuals to register to vote in an election for Federal office on the date of the election.
Source: Bill sponsored by 27 Reps 01-HR128 on Jan 3, 2001
Prohibit voter intimidation in federal elections.
Rangel co-sponsored prohibiting voter intimidation in federal elections
Makes it unlawful for anyone before or during a federal election to knowingly communicate false election-related information about that election, with the intent to prevent another person from exercising the right to vote. Increases from one year to five years' imprisonment the criminal penalty for intimidation of voters.
Introductory statement by Sponsor:
Sen. OBAMA: This bill seeks to address the all-too-common efforts to deceive voters in order to keep them away from the polls. It's hard to imagine that we even need a bill like this. But, unfortunately, there are people who will stop at nothing to try to deceive voters and keep them away from the polls. What's worse, these practices often target and exploit vulnerable populations, such as minorities, the disabled, or the poor. We saw countless examples in this past election.
Of course, these so-called warnings have no basis in fact, and are made with only one goal in mind--to keep Americans away from the polls. We see these problems election after election, and my hope is that this bill will finally stop these practices. This bill makes voter intimidation & deception punishable by law, and it contains strong penalties. The bill also seeks to address the real harm of these crimes--people who are prevented from voting by misinformation--by establishing a process for reaching out to these misinformed voters with accurate information so they can cast their votes in time.
Source: Voter Intimidation Prevention Act (H.R.1281 & S.453) 07-S453 on Mar 1, 2007
- Some of us remember the thousands of Latino voters in Orange County, California, who received letters warning them in
Spanish that, "if you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that can result in incarceration."
- Or the voters in Virginia who received calls from a so-called "Virginia Elections Commission" informing them--falsely--that they were ineligible to vote.
- Or the voters who were told that they couldn't vote if they had family members who had been convicted of a crime.
Ban stock trading based on Congressional insider knowledge.
Rangel co-sponsored STOCK Act
Congressional Summary:Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act): Amends the Securities Exchange Act and the Commodity Exchange Act to prohibit purchase or sale of either securities or commodities by a person in possession of material nonpublic information regarding pending or prospective legislative action.
- Amends the Ethics in Government Act to require formal disclosure of certain securities and commodities futures transactions.
- Amends the Lobbying Disclosure Act to subject to its registration, reporting, and disclosure requirements all political intelligence activities, contacts, firms, and consultants.
Bill explanation (ProCon.org, "Insider Trading by Congress", Feb. 3, 2012):
Source: H1148/S1871 11-S1871 on Nov 15, 2011
- On Mar. 17, 2011, Tim Walz (D-MN) introduced the STOCK Act where it gained nine co-sponsors by Nov. 4, 2011.
- On Nov. 13, 2011, the TV show "60 Minutes" reported that several members of
Congress allegedly used insider information for personal gain. The STOCK Act received 84 additional House co-sponsors in the five days following the report, and Scott Brown (R-MA) filed the STOCK Act in the Senate on Nov. 15, 2011. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) also filed a variation of the STOCK Act in the Senate on Nov. 17, 2011.
- On Jan. 24, 2012, in his State of the Union Address, President Obama said "Send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress, and I will sign it tomorrow."
- Immediately after the speech, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told reporters, "I think people should have enough sense not to do it [insider trading] without legislation, but I will support legislation."
- On Feb. 2, 2012, a revised version of the STOCK Act passed in the Senate by a vote of 96-3 with Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) dissenting.
Require full disclosure of independent campaign expenditures.
Rangel co-sponsored DISCLOSE Act
Wikipedia & OnTheIssue Summary:
- Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act of 2012 or DISCLOSE Act:
- Amends the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA) to add to the definition of "independent expenditure" an expenditure by a person that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate, or takes a position on a candidates, qualifications, or fitness for office.
- Expands the period during which certain communications are treated as electioneering communications.
- Prescribes disclosure requirements for corporations, labor organizations, and certain other entities, including a political committee with an account established for the purpose of accepting donations or contributions that do not comply with the contribution limits or source prohibitions under FECA (but only with respect to such accounts).
- Repeals the prohibition against political contributions by individuals age 17 or younger.
- On January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, ruled that prohibiting corporations and unions from making independent expenditures in political campaigns was unconstitutional. This ruling is frequently described as permitting corporations and unions to donate to political campaigns, but these claims are incorrect. The ruling did remove the previous ban on corporations and organizations using their funds for direct advocacy, including endorsing for or against specific candidates, actions that were previously prohibited.
The result of Citizens United was that "Super PACs" spent millions on TV ads in the 2012 election, advocating both issues and candidates. The DISCLOSE Act attempts to reduce the negative effect of Citizens United by requiring disclosure of independent expenditures made by advocacy groups.
Source: S3369/HR4010 12-HR4010 on Feb 9, 2012
Establish 15 days of early voting in all states.
Rangel co-sponsored SIMPLE Voting Act
A BILL to amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require States to establish a minimum period of 15 days for early voting prior to the date of an election for Federal office and to ensure that no individual will be required to wait for longer than one hour to cast a ballot at a polling place in an election for Federal office.
Source: H.R.6591 12-HR6591 on Nov 15, 2012
- This Act may be cited as the 'Streamlined and Improved Methods at Polling Locations and Early Voting Act' or the 'SIMPLE Voting Act'.
- Each State shall allow individuals to vote in an election for Federal office on each day occurring during the 15-day period which ends 2 days before the date of the election, in the same manner as voting is allowed on such day.
- Minimum Early Voting Requirements: Each polling place shall allow such voting for not less than 10 hours on each day; and have uniform hours each day for which such voting occurs.
Location of Polling Places Near Public Transportation: To the greatest extent practicable, a State shall ensure that each polling place is located within reasonable walking distance of a stop on a public transportation route.
- A Commission shall issue standards for the administration of early voting, including the nondiscriminatory geographic placement of polling places at which such voting occurs.
- The standards shall permit States to deviate from any requirement in the case of unforeseen circumstances such as a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or a change in voter turnout.
- Each State shall provide a sufficient number of voting systems, poll workers, and other election resources (including physical resources) at each polling place to ensure that no individual will be required to wait longer than one hour to cast a ballot.
Establish "My Voice Voucher" small campaign contributions.
Rangel co-sponsored Government By the People Act
- A refundable tax credit of 50% of congressional House campaign contributions, to be known as "My Voice Federal" contributions.
- Establishes the Government by the People Oversight Commission, which will launch a pilot program and select 3 eligible states to operate a voucher pilot program.
- Provide each qualified individual during the election cycle, upon his or her request, with a "My Voice Voucher" worth $50 (in either paper or electronic form).
- Authorizes the individual to submit the My Voice Voucher to qualified federal election candidates, allocating a portion of its value in $5 increments.
- Prohibits a certified participating candidate from establishing or controlling a leadership PAC (political action committee).
Proponent's argument in favor (by Reps. Nancy Pelosi & John Sarbanes): Citizens United shook the foundation of our democracy: the principle that it is the voices of the people, not the
bank accounts of the privileged few, that determine the outcome of our elections and the policies of our government. Most members of Congress would leap at the chance to fund their campaigns without having to turn to a familiar cast of big donors and entrenched interests. Today, that's virtually impossible. But we can and must break the grip of special interests on our politics: rally around H.R. 20.
Opponent's argument against (The Examiner): The proposed legislation seeks to undo the Citizens United v. FEC ruling which has been a thorn in the side of progressives ever since the Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that political spending was "a form of protected speech under the First Amendment." Although the "Government by the People Act" innocently claims to want to get big money out of politics, the real goal is to smash the Tea Party. The fear that conservative groups would have access to funds typically granted to progressive groups and unions was too much to bear.
Source: H.R.20 14-H0020 on Feb 5, 2014
Public financing of federal campaigns by voter vouchers.
Rangel co-sponsored H.R.20 & S.366
- Allow a refundable tax credit of 50% of cash contributions to congressional House campaigns, to be known as "My Voice Federal" contributions.
- Select three states to operate a voucher pilot program.
- Provide, upon request, a "My Voice Voucher" worth $50.
- Authorizes the individual to submit the My Voice Voucher to qualified federal election candidates, allocating a portion of its value in $5 increments.
- Permits an individual to revoke a My Voice Voucher within two days after submitting it to a candidate.
- Establishes the Freedom From Influence Fund in the Treasury [for 6-to-1 matching funds for the vouchers].
- Allows taxpayers to designate overpayments of tax for contribution to the Freedom From Influence Fund.
Supporters reasons for voting YEA:Rep. Sarbanes: Big money warps Congress' priorities and erodes the public's trust in government. This bold new legislation returns voice and power back to
the American people:
- Empower everyday citizens to fuel Congressional campaigns by providing a My Voice Tax Credit.
- Amplify the voices of everyday Americans through a 6-to-1 match.
- Prevent Super PACs from drowning out small donor-backed candidates.
Opponents reasons for voting NAY:(Bill Moyers, Feb. 19, 2015): This citizen engagement strategy, particularly when used to court small donors, is not without its critics. Small donors, at least in the current system, often tend to be political ideologues. That trend leaves many asking: won't moving to small donors just empower extremists? Sarbanes counters, if Congress changes the political fundraising rules, they will also change the calculus for "the rational small donor who right now isn't going to give $25 because they've figured out that it's not going to matter." The prospect of a 6-to-1 match might very well impact how those less ideologically extreme potential donors think about political giving.
Source: Government By the People Act 15_H020 on Jan 21, 2015
Statehood for the District of Columbia.
Rangel co-sponsored H.R.317
Congressional Summary: Sets forth procedures for admission into the United States of the state of New Columbia.
- Requires the Mayor of the District of Columbia to submit to the voters propositions for statehood and adoption of a State Constitution, and issue a proclamation for the first elections to Congress of two Senators and one Representative of New Columbia.
- Requires the President to issue a proclamation announcing the results and admitting New Columbia into the Union.
- Provides for conversion of District government offices to state offices.
Opponents reasons for voting NAY: (DCist.com, Sept. 2014): The Argument Against: Congress does not have the authority to grant statehood to D.C.; the 23rd amendment, which gave D.C. three electoral votes, would have to be repealed before statehood was granted. Washington is a wholly urban, one-industry town, dependent on the federal government far in excess of any other state.
Moreover, with Congress no longer having authority over New Columbia but dependent on it, New Columbia could exert influence on the federal government far in excess of any other state.
Supporters reasons for voting YEA: [Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-DC; the District of Columbia has one representative to Congress and no Senators; Rep. Holmes can introduce bills but her vote does not count]: This 51st state would have no jurisdiction over the federal territory or enclave that now consists of the Washington that Members of Congress and visitors associate with the capital of our country. Those would remain under federal jurisdiction. The New Columbia Admission Act was the first bill I introduced in 1991. Statehood is the only alternative for the citizens of the District of Columbia. To be content with less than statehood is to concede the equality of citizenship that is the birthright of our residents as citizens of the United States.
Source: New Columbia Admission Act 15_H317 on Jan 13, 2015
Automatic voter registration for all citizens.
Rangel co-sponsored H.R.12 & S.1088
- Require each state to make available official public websites for online voter registration.
- Authorizes automated voter registration and establishes same day registration, and voter registration of individuals under 18 years of age.
- Declares that the right to vote shall not be denied because that individual has been convicted of a criminal offense.
Supporters reasons for voting YEA: (BrennanCenter.org): Too many Americans go to vote on Election Day only to find their names are not on the voter rolls--often, wrongly deleted. The US is on the verge of a new paradigm for registering voters: automatic, permanent registration of eligible voters, which would add up to 50 million eligible voters to the rolls.
Opponents reasons for voting NAY: (Gov. Christie's veto message on the "Democracy Act", Nov. 2015): Christie called a provision establishing automatic voter registration that requires
New Jerseyan to opt out a "government-knows-best, backwards approach that would inconvenience citizens and waste government resources for no justifiable reason." Automatic voter registration would have added 1.6 million people to the state's voter rolls.
Source: Voter Empowerment Act 15-H12 on Mar 19, 2015
- TN-8: I have voted in every election federal, state or local that I chose to. If people want to vote there is nothing but laziness preventing them from doing so today! Regarding photo ID's you have one to drive, buy alcohol, and go to the doctor.
- AL-2: This bill is so general that anyone that is alive, has lived, or will live in this century will be able to vote as well as non-Americans, pets, people without voting rights, and some people multiple times.
- TN-3: This bill will surely bring about fixed voting in favor of the one who can cheat the most. How about having a voter photo card and a test to see if they are capable of voting and not just voting for whoever promises them more free stuff.
Page last updated: Jan 22, 2017