Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Gutless wonders

House Republicans are no doubt standing tall tonight after voting earlier today to change party rules that would have required Tom DeLay to relinquish his leadership position should he be indicted and forced to join his colleagues in the dock down in Texas:

"The change received overwhelming but not unanimous approval in a voice vote that showed Republicans' eagerness to protect the leader who raised countless campaign dollars for them. He also engineered a redistricting plan in Texas that caused five Democratic losses through retirement or election defeats.

The dilemma was to shield DeLay in a case that he views as political, while not giving blanket protection to any leader indicted for a crime that clearly has no political overtones. During the closed debate that spanned four hours, with breaks, someone even questioned whether a leader charged with murder could retain his or her post, according to a House aide who was present. Such questions would be handled in the case-by-case review.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., denounced the Republicans' move. 'Republicans have reached a new low,' Pelosi said in a statement. 'It is absolutely mind-boggling that as their first order of business following the elections, House Republicans have lowered the ethical standards for their leaders.'"

Of course, the decision was made with a voice vote, behind closed doors. No truth to the rumor that the members were also required to close their eyes when voting.

Kudos to Zach Wamp (R-TN) and Chris Shays (R-CT) for going on the record against the changes.


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