Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) received a censure from Congress last night, after members voted 333-79 in favor of the motion. Only two Republicans voted against the motion, and 170 Democrats voted for it.
While arguing against the censure, Rangel apologized but remained defiant. The Democrat was found guilty of 11 counts of ethical violations last month, the largest number of violations made by any single member of Congress in history.
“Let me apologize to this august body for putting you in the awkward position today,” said the congressman. “I have made some serious mistakes.”
But he also added that “Never in the history of this great country has anyone suffered a censure when the record is abundantly clear that…the committee found no evidence at all of corruption.”
The big surprise of the night came when conservative Rep. Peter King (R-NY) mounted a public defense of Rangel. “I have found no case where charges similar or analogous to those against Congressman Rangel resulted in censure — a penalty thus far reserved for such serious violations as supporting armed insurrection against the United States and the sexual abuse of minors,” he said in a statement.
The last time a House member was censured was 27 years ago, and the punishment has been used only 23 times.
Dave Weigel finds Rangel’s odds of surviving pretty good: “Can his career survive? Well, three of the last five members who were censured — Gerry Studds, Thomas Blanton, and Charlie Wilson (yes, that Charlie Wilson) — were re-elected for years.”
I’m sure Rangel will be fine. Even though facing an ethics trial, he swept to easy victory in New York in November, winning his district with 81 percent of the vote.
The text of the resolution to censure can be found here.