The Ways and Means Committee has a powerful hold over taxes, as well as many healthcare-related programs. Historically the oldest committee of Congress, Ways and Means also has jurisdiction over some revenue aspects of Medicare, Social Security and a number of social service programs.
Stark, who has chaired the committee's health panel since 1992, has had a checkered history among Republicans and members of his own party—many of whom have been on the receiving end of the congressman's barbs. Stark, who has recently had his own health issues, notified Pelosi last night that he would not seek the chairmanship's position.
In a written statement released today, Stark said he wanted to stay on as chairman of the Health Subcommittee. “We are at the cusp of achieving healthcare reform, and we must remain focused on moving forward,” he said. “Once we pass health reform, it will take careful oversight to make sure that it is being implemented correctly.”
Meanwhile, Rangel lauded the choice to elevate Levin. “Under the circumstances, I could not think of anyone that would be able to serve the country, the congress and our committee better than Sandy Levin,” Rangel said.
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