Stark passed over for Ways and Means Committee

March 4, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Fremont Congressman Pete Stark is being passed over. Stark was in line to become chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. The stories out of Washington are that Stark got passed over because he's too volatile. But stark told ABC7 News, it isn't true.

When scandal-plagued Rep. Charlie Rangel, R-NY was forced to step down at least temporarily from his post as chair of Ways and Means, the next in line to succeed him was Stark.

But after meeting with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the announcement came that Stark would not be the new chairman.

"Because he wants to retain his chairmanship of the Health Subcommittee, he wanted to not serve as acting chair," Pelosi said.

What Pelosi explained to reporters is that it was Stark's idea to give up being chairman and instead, the job goes to Minnesota Congressman Sander Levin.

"They're headed into a bad electoral cycle and they want somebody, I think, to take that position who is not outspoken, someone who is level headed and trusted and popular with his colleagues," ABC7 Political Analyst Bruce Cain, Ph.D. said.

Cain says that's Levin not Stark. In 1990, Stark called the Health and Human Services Secretary a "disgrace to his race."

In 1995, he told Congresswoman Nancy Johnson she was "a whore for the insurance industry."

In 2003, when Congressman Scott McInnis told him shut up, Stark snapped and said: "You think you're big enough to make me you little wimp. Come over her and make me I dare you, you little fruitcake."

"I guess to dislike somebody because I object to their philosophic position. Sometimes I do and I shouldn't and I know it," Congressman Stark said.

But Congressman Stark says his penchant for spouting off didn't keep him from the chairman ship and it hasn't hurt him at home.

In the last election he won in a landslide over Republican Raymond Chui, who blames voter apathy.

"If people would pay more attention with what Pete Stark has to say I would've done a lot better," Chui said.

Chui says most people don't even realize Stark doesn't live in his East Bay district. His home is in Maryland on the Chesapeake. Stark says it makes sense for him to live close to work and as for staying on as chair of the Health Subcommittee is more important to him.

"I'm terribly worried that Obama's staff is out to destroy Medicare as we know it that's something I just couldn't let happen," Stark said.

Stark is calling out the president's staff for trying to destroy Medicare and simultaneously reinforcing the reputation that many believe kept him from the chairman's job.


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