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Democrats quietly toss term limits on congressional chairs

January 8, 2009 |  7:12 pm

With so much Capitol Hill attention focused on swearing-in members and not swearing-in Roland Burris, the congressional majority Democrats released a package of rules changes tNew York congressman Charlie Rangelhis week.

It has the very optimistic title: "Common-Sense Reforms to Keep Congress Working for America."

That kind of verbiage -- like "Have I got a deal for you!" -- should set off all kinds of alarms.

And it did for the folks over at MSNBC's savvy First Read, who point out that one of the silent changes throws away term limits for congressional committee chairs, all of whom at the moment just happen to be, of course, Democrats.

The MSNBC crew points out that of the 22 committee chairs, 16 have been in office since long before Bill Clinton left Arkansas. The changes mean that a chairman like, oh, say, Charlie Rangel of New York (see photo) can hold the gavel for as long as he wants.

"Is this change Democrats can believe in?" the newsletter asks.

Good question.

--Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credit: Associated Press

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