Charles Bernard Rangel has left an indelible imprint on history. He has served 20 terms in the House of Representatives, the last two as as chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee. The first African American to head that longstanding panel, Congressman Rangel currently serves as the Committee's senior member, wiedling influence over tax revenue legislation and oversight authority over the major issues of the day – economic policy, international trade, welfare, Social Security, Medicare, and health care. Congressman Rangel won his district – which includes his native Central Harlem, East Harlem, the Upper West Side, and Washington Heights – with 88 percent of the vote in November.
A high school dropout, Congressman Rangel recounts how he was transformed from wayward youth to public servant in his autobiography, "And I Haven't Had a Bad Day Since: From the Streets of Harlem to the Halls of Congress." In 1948, he volunteered for the Army and served in the Korean War, earning himself a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for Valor in the process. With the aid of the G.I. bill, he received a college degree from New York University and a law degree from St. John's University Law School.
He began his public service career as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and was later elected to the New York State Assembly. He came to Washington in 1971, succeeding Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. in the House of Representatives and becoming a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Early in his tenure, Congressman Rangel served as a member of the House Judiciary Committee during hearings on the articles of impeachment of then President Richard Nixon.