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Congress: Rangel goes on trial

USA Today: "Rep. Charles Rangel faces his accusers today when the House ethics committee holds a trial to determine if the New York Democrat violated 13 ethics charges. The trial is set to begin at 9 a.m. ET… His trial overshadows the start of a lame-duck session, in which lawmakers will tackle a host of spending issues and hold orientation sessions for newly elected members of Congress." Rangel said, "All I can do is just ask for time to be heard," Rangel said Sunday at a memorial service in Harlem for civil rights leader Dorothy Height. "I'm confident that at the end of the day, my constituents' faith in me, as demonstrated by their overwhelming vote, will be well-founded."

More: "The last ethics trial in the House was in 2002 for Rep. James Traficant, an Ohio Democrat later expelled from Congress."

NY1 has video of Rangel’s remarks yesterday, and it writes, "Rangel split with his lawyers after paying them more than $1.4 million, after the money seems to have dried up. 'I already notified them that as a result of them taking so long that I have exhausted my abilities to raise the funds which are necessary to move on," said Rangel. "All I do is just ask for the time to be heard and I am confident that at the end of the day my constituents' faith in me, as demonstrated by their overwhelming vote, will be well-founded.'"

The AP: "A rare ethics trial begins Monday for the representative from Harlem. Rangel's career peaked in 2007 when he became chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. It took a dive last March, when he relinquished that post after his corporate-funded travel was criticized in a separate ethics case. Rangel, first elected in 1970 and now 80 years old, apparently is without a lawyer. He and his defense team parted company a few months after he complained in an August speech on the House floor that he could no longer afford legal bills that had reached nearly $2 million."

NBC's Shawna Thomas reported over the weekend that Democrats settled their leadership fight, creating a new position for Rep. Jim Clyburn -- assistant leader, which will hold the No. 3 rank.

But that’s too bad, NBC's John Yang wrote. Leadership fights have a way of bringing out the drama. He recalled a 1976 leadership fight in which Rep. Mo Udall (D-AZ) thought he had enough votes to win, but in the end, did not. "The Arizonan turned his campaign lapel pin upside down so that 'MO' became 'OW' and delivered a quip that has lived in the annals of congressional reporting ever since: 'The difference between a cactus and a caucus is that with a cactus the pricks are on the outside.'"

For what it's worth, Heath Shuler (D-NC) says he'll challenge Pelosi for Minority Leader.

"Senate Democrats and Republicans return to Washington this week to hold leadership elections and vote on three bills that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has placed on the schedule," The Hill reports. "Delaware Sen.-elect Chris Coons (D) and West Virginia Sen.-elect Joe Manchin (D) will take the oath of office Monday afternoon. Senate aides expect the ceremony to take place at 4 p.m. if the official paperwork is in order. ... Both parties will hold leadership elections on Tuesday morning. ... On Wednesday, the Senate will hold votes to proceed to three bills: the Promoting Natural Gas and Electric Vehicles Act; the Paycheck Fairness Act; and the Food Safety Modernization Act."

"House Republican Leader John Boehner told members of the incoming GOP class Sunday that the No. 1 goal for House Republicans over the next two years is to end the federal government’s 'spending binge' and 'job-killing policies.' Boehner, who will become the new Speaker in the next Congress, told Republicans they may spend the 'entire 112th Congress fighting to do just those two things,' according to excerpts of the speech obtained by The Hill. ... Boehner advised that the new members stay humble. He said they should remember 'just one word: humility. ... All the power in this town is on loan from the people.'"