Facing ethics investigations on multiple fronts, Rep. Charlie Rangel announced Wednesday that he’s stepping down from his position as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Although Rangel characterized the move as temporary, he might be looking at a longer — i.e., permanent — hiatus.–KA

Watch Rangel’s announcement below (C-SPAN via YouTube):

The Christian Science Monitor:

For more than a year, the popular chairman – a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi – has dodged calls from Republicans and ethics watchdog groups for his resignation.

But with last week’s finding by the House ethics panel that Representative Rangel violated House gift rules by accepting corporate funding for trips to the Caribbean, Democrats broke ranks.

“Rep. Rangel has had a long and distinguished career and I respect his leadership, but I believe Congress needs to do more to restore the public trust,” said Rep. Artur Davis (D) of Alabama, in a statement. A colleague on the House Ways and Means Committee, Representative Davis was the first member of the Congressional Black Caucus to back calls for Rangel’s resignation.

Rangel faces ongoing ethics probes on issues ranging from misuse of rent-controlled apartments in New York and failure to disclose income from a villa in the Dominican Republic to reports that he exchanged official favors – a tax loophole for oil driller Nabors Industries Ltd. – in exchange for a $1 million gift to the Charles Rangel Center at City College of New York.

“He’s not getting that chairmanship back, because trips to the Caribbean are the least of his problems,” says Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), an ethics watchdog in Washington.

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