WASHINGTON — House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert withdrew his opposition Friday to giving a commission probing the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks more time to complete its work, lifting the main hurdle to a two-month extension.
In a letter to the commission, Hastert acknowledged that he had been reluctant to support an extension. But he said that since the commission under current law did not go out of existence until July 26, he would support allowing the panel to issue its report by then instead of May 27.
"I want your commission to do a thorough job, but I also believe that we must have your recommendations soon in order to give the Congress adequate time to act on them," the Illinois Republican said.
Hastert's reversal came on the same day the Senate approved legislation granting a two-month extension, and after two senators threatened to delay a highway funding bill if the House did not consider giving more time to the commission.
Hastert had opposed bringing to a vote legislation to grant the extension because it would delay the commission's recommendations and potentially politicize findings released at the height of the presidential campaign, his spokesman said.
The Democratic National Convention begins July 26 in Boston.