Is DeLay Losing Support in House GOP Caucus?
Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff's guilty plea this week seems to be having a spillover effect in the House, where more Republican members are urging new leadership elections that could depose Abramoff ally Tom DeLay (R-Texas) as majority leader.
It would take 50 Republican House members to force leadership elections when the House reconvenes later this month -- a move that would likely end DeLay's chances of reclaiming the post as majority leader. While the 50-member threshold hasn't been met at this time, momentum now appears to be moving against DeLay.
As first reported by Hotline's On Call and soon after by Roll Call (subscription required) earlier today, Reps. Charlie Bass (R-N.H.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) are circulating a petition to demand new leadership elections. Fifty members of the Republican Conference must sign on in order for an actual vote to be scheduled. The duo of Bass and Flake could spell trouble for DeLay since they hail from disparate wings of the party. Bass is a leading voice among GOP moderates, while Flake is a member of the conference's most conservative wing.
While it seems likely that moderate GOPers, long unhappy with DeLay's aggressive brand of conservatism, will support an effort to throw him overboard, it remains to be seen how many conservatives will join such an effort. DeLay has repeatedly made clear his intention to reclaim his leadership post once he clears his name in the Texas redistricting case.
Even as the tremors from the Bass-Flake petition were being felt on Capitol Hill, conservative Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) created another layer of intrigue by not only calling for DeLay to permanently cede his post but also urging that Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) become the new majority leader. "He brings experience and proven ability to address problems," Kline said of Boehner. (For more on what the GOP leadership picture might look like sans DeLay, make sure to read the story in today's Post by Jonathan Weisman and Shalaigh Murray.
DeLay spokesman Kevin Madden insisted that his boss has no plans to step aside as majority leader -- either today or in the future. "Mr. DeLay appreciates that a majority of his colleagues recognize he remains committed to fulfilling his responsibilities as majority leader as soon as he is exonerated in Texas," said Madden.
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