By Mark Memmott
"Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., will take over as acting chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee," the Associated Press reports.
He will be stepping in for Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., who yesterday said he's temporarily stepping down while the House Ethics Committee investigates trips he took to the Caribbean that were funded by corporations. Rangel has said that he did not know about that funding.
"The startling announcement comes a day after Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., appeared ready to take the reins. ... Stark was the next in line for the post in terms of seniority, but some panel members recoiled at the idea of his leading the committee."
Politico says that "lawmakers and aides said Stark faced a rebellion within the committee and the caucus over his sometimes bizarre behavior and penchant for making offensive comments." It notes that Stark:
"Was ensnared in an ethics investigation into claims he tried to obtain a tax credit for Maryland residents -- his main residence is in California . ... He called former Connecticut Republican Rep. Nancy Johnson a 'whore for the insurance industry' and said she got her information from 'pillow talk.' He said Jewish members of Congress were a cause of the Gulf War. More recently, he accused Republicans of sending soldiers to Iraq 'to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement.' "
Update at 11:10 a.m. ET: NPR's Ron Elving writes that for Democrats, the Rangel news "is problematic. The failure to contain such damage can cost a party its momentum, its mandate and -- under certain circumstances -- its majority."