NYT House Democrats voted on Thursday night to strip a Louisiana congressman of a key committee position as they tried to avoid any taint of scandal in a year when they want to ride accusations of Republican corruption to election victories. The congressman, William J. Jefferson, is the subject of a federal bribery investigation and has insisted he has done nothing wrong. He has rebuffed efforts to get him to step aside voluntarily. After a meeting stretching more than three hours, the Democrats voted to remove him from the House Ways and Means Committee until his case is resolved. The action, on a 99-to-58 vote, is subject to the approval by the full House.
The Black Caucus opposes removing him. This is an ideal chance to deprive the Democrats of what they want, attract some support from the Black Caucus, and rub their noses in the fact that Republican rules require someone to step aside, but Democratic rules do not. Just say that unless rules are passed that require any member of congressman to step aside, that the Dems must wait until the matter is resolved.