House GOP to Vote Sooner on DeLay Successor?
The Fix has learned that House GOP Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce (Ohio) will circulate an e-mail to her colleagues today asking whether they would be willing and able to return to Capitol Hill early in order to vote for a new majority leader.
Pryce's proposed return date to stage the election is Jan. 26 and 27 -- a few days before Congress had originally planned to come back to Washington, D.C., for President Bush's Jan. 31 State of the Union address. Those familiar with the Pryce query insist that she is not endorsing an early return; rather, she is trying to get a feeling for whether there would be support for such a move within the conference.
The Pryce e-mail comes on the heels of a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.) sent by four Florida Republicans -- Reps. Clay Shaw, Jeff Miller, Mario Diaz-Balart and Katherine Harris -- that made a similar request. "We believe that Republican leadership elections should not overshadow or interfere with the President's message to the nation," they wrote.
Many House Republicans also believe that the sooner a vote is conducted, the sooner they can move on from the cloud of corruption surrounding the chamber since fallen lobbyist Jack Abramoff's plea deal last week. It would also limit the public airing of dirty laundry between the two rivals for the majority leader position -- Reps. John Boehner (Ohio) and Roy Blunt (Mo.).
UPDATE, 2:15 p.m. ET: Boehner allies say the Ohio congressman is making clear to colleagues that he favors holding leadership elections prior to the 31st because it is in the best interest of the conference. Blunt spokeswoman Jessica Boulanger said that her boss "has no personal opinion one way or the other" on the timing of the vote, adding: "Congressman Blunt supports the will of the Conference 100 percent, whatever that may be."
January 11, 2006; 11:20 AM ET
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