The halls of Congress buzzed on Tuesday with word of Tom DeLay’s pending resignation. More from Chad Pergram on Capitol Hill.
Reporters peppered lawmakers from both sides of the aisle with questions about DeLay. Case in point a briefing with House Minority Whip Democrat Steny Hoyer of Maryland.
But Democrats like Hoyer were only too happy to make light of DeLay’s reasons to drop out of the race and formally move from Texas to the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia. That’s required for DeLay to strip his name from the November ballot.
“So as I understand Texas Law, he has to die… probably not an option he wanted to pursue. He had to move out of state of he had to be convicted of a crime. He says he’s not going to be convicted of a crime so of all the alternatives, he took the one he had. That’s not a strategy it’s a recognition of reality.”
The Democrats bliss proved to be a headache for the GOP. DeLay’s successor as Majority Leader Ohio Republican John Boehner said this was the first time in his life he had ever taken 2 Advil in the morning before coming to work. Boehner said DeLay faced quote..”very difficult pressures” in his re-election contest. Republican Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison says she’s saddened to see her colleague go.
“I was surprised. I had no idea he was thinking about it. He did call me. You know, maybe he just decided it would be better for him as well as for the District if did something else.”
Tom DeLay may have no longer been Majority Leader. But he still wielded considerable power as a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee. That’s the panel that determines how individual federal dollars are spent and how much goes to certain projects.
And whomever replaces DeLay, Republican or Democrat, won’t carry his seniority says Republican Texas Senator John Cornyn.
“Obviously he has a lot of experience and a lot of power here in Washington to get things done for Texas but that just means that the rest of us will have to work that much harder to make up for the loss.”
Texas’s loss will be Virginia’s gain as DeLay plans to move to Virginia and become a constituent of Republican Senator George Allen. New House Leader John Boehner expects DeLay to be involved in Republican political causes. But Allen’s skeptical of that.
“…you’ll have to ask him how involved he wants to be in politics….I think he be mostly focusing on certain legal matters.”
But Democrats like Steny Hoyer would relish DeLay’s continued involvement in GOP politics.
“He is a poster child for the allegations of corruption of the party.”
And that’s the message Democrats will try to drive home to voters this fall. For Houston Public Radio, I’m Chad Pergram on Capitol Hill.