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DeLay "Permanently" Resigns Leadership Post

By January 7, 2006

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Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) has "permanently" resigned his position as Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, the number three House leadership position, in the wake of the latest wave of scandal associated with lobbyist Jack Abramoff. DeLay temporarily stepped down in September after being indicted in Texas on charges of campaign finance irregularities. In his letter to House Speaker Dennis Haster (R-IL), DeLay said he would "seek re-election to a 12th term representing Texas' 22nd district."

In a Dear Colleague letter, DeLay said he had "always acted in an ethical manner within the rules of our body and the laws of our land." However, in 2004, the House Ethics Committee admonished DeLay three times. In the first six months of 2004, the Committee met only once, in part due to Republican-proposed rule changes said to benefit DeLay. In October, Chair Doc Hastings (R-WA) said that the Committee did not "have the resources" to investigate a 15-month old ethics complaint directed at DeLay.

Known as "The Hammer" for his strong-arm tactics, DeLay has been criticized for stretching House Rules. For example, in July he held a 15-minute voting window open for almost an hour in order to twist arms to secure a two-vote victory for the Administration Central American Free Trade Agreement.

DeLay was elected to the House in 1984. In 1997, he was a member of a Republican group that attempted to overthrow Rep. Newt Gingrich, then Speaker of the House. He was elected Majority Leader in November 2002.

Acting Majority Leader Roy Blunt (R-MO) is expected to seek the permanent appointment. Other names floated as possible contenders include Rep. John Boehner (R-OH).

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