Friday, April 15, 2005

A second Republican has said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay should step aside — but this time it is a conservative, Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican.

Mr. Tancredo yesterday said he doesn’t believe the charges against Mr. DeLay and thinks they are motivated by partisanship, but said it might be better that Mr. DeLay step aside for some time.

“If the majority leader were to temporarily step aside so that these trumped-up charges can be dealt with in a less-hostile environment — as they have proven to be an unnecessary distraction — it may be a productive move,” Mr. Tancredo said.

His comment came a day after he told the Denver Post it was “probably not the worst idea” for the leader to step aside. But he also told that paper that Republicans should not move to oust Mr. DeLay.

Mr. DeLay, the Texas Republican, has given no indication he will step aside, telling The Washington Times in an interview this week he has not been distracted by the charges. Asked about Mr. Tancredo’s remarks yesterday, DeLay spokesman Dan Allen said the Republican agenda remains on track.

“Majority Leader Delay is focused on working with the House Republicans to ensure that we move our agenda. We’ve been very successful this Congress, already passing the toughest budget since 1997, permanent repeal of the death tax — which makes it 11 years in a row we’ve passed tax relief — and reforming lawsuit abuse, to name a few,” he said.

“The leader has made it clear he looks forward to sitting down with the chairman and ranking member of the Ethics Committee to get the facts out and dispel all this fiction,” Mr. Allen said.

Last weekend Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut became the first House Republican to call for Mr. DeLay to step aside. But Mr. Shays’ call was not a surprise to many Republicans, because he has tangled with House leaders on a number of high-profile issues before and is often critical of his party’s leadership.

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