- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 6, 2005


House Republicans expressed strong support for Majority Leader Tom DeLay yesterday, dismissing persistent Democratic criticism of the Texan as evidence of partisan politics.

“I don’t see any wavering of the support for the leader. I think a lot of members think he’s taking arrows for all of us,” said Rep. Roy Blunt, third-ranking among Republican Party leaders.

Mr. Blunt and others spoke out on Mr. DeLay’s behalf as Democrats leveled a new charge — that the ethical questions surrounding him were distracting from congressional efforts to tackle pressing problems.

“When politicians, the Republican majority, decides it is above the law, the American people are now seeing that they have a price to pay — at the pump, for their pharmaceuticals, and in the absence of initiatives that would help grow our economy, and to feed our children, provide for the health of our people, protect our environment and, indeed, even provide for the common defense,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.

Mr. DeLay was admonished three times last year by the House ethics committee, and fresh questions have been raised in recent weeks about his overseas travel over several years. Also, three associates are under indictment on state charges in Texas in connection with an effort to redraw the state’s congressional districts.

In addition, lobbyist Jack Abramoff, long close to Mr. DeLay, is under investigation by the Justice Department and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee for the work he did for tribes.

Mr. DeLay has denied any wrongdoing, and has not been charged with violating any law.

“Nancy has two years to get the majority; she knows this is her only shot,” said Rep. Jerry Lewis, California Republican, referring to Mrs. Pelosi.

At the moment Mrs. Pelosi said Congress had been distracted, Mr. Blunt and other Republican Party leaders were holding a press conference to trumpet their accomplishments and announce plans to pass several other bills by the end of next month.

They took credit for legislation to provide funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a bill to provide relief to victims of the Dec. 26 Indian Ocean tsunami and a measure to limit the scope of class-action lawsuits.

Among the priorities for the next eight weeks, they said, are measures to permanently repeal the estate tax and to make it harder for consumers to shed debts in bankruptcy court. Energy and welfare legislation are also on the list.

Two Democrat-aligned groups made fresh low-budget attacks on Mr. DeLay during the day.

The Campaign for America’s Future said it would run ads in The Washington Times saying Mr. DeLay falls short of the ethical standards established by Presidents Reagan and Eisenhower and Sen. Barry Goldwater.

Separately, the American Progress Action Fund started a Web site (www.dropthehammer.org) urging consumers to contact businesses that have donated to Mr. DeLay’s legal defense fund.

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