Rep. William Jefferson Kicked off House Ways and Means Committee

House Democrats voted Rep. Jefferson off the committee by a vote of 99 – 58.

The AP is carrying the story:

House Democrats determined to make an election-year point about ethics, voted to strip Rep. William Jefferson of his committee assignment Thursday night while a federal bribery investigation runs its course.

Members of the rank and file approved the move after Jefferson refused for weeks to step aside on his own, and despite claims by some members of the Congressional Black Caucus that he was being treated unfairly.

Officials said the vote was 99-58. The action must be ratified by the full House, and Jefferson left open the possibility that he might at long last relent and surrender the seat on his own. “I don’t want to speculate,” he said.

The session marked the culmination of a drive by the Democratic leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, to take action against the embattled Louisiana lawmaker, who maintains his innocence and has not been indicted.

“This is not about a court of law. This is about a higher ethical standard, and you know when it isn’t being met,” she told reporters several hours before the meeting.

Jefferson is black, and Pelosi, brushing aside criticism from members of the black caucus, told reporters she had been “more than fair.”

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