House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Monday tried to put fresh pressure on top Democrats to step up efforts to push Rep. Anthony Weiner out the door.
The Virginia Republican repeated his call for Weiner’s resignation and added that Democratic leaders “should do everything they can to bring him to that point, if he’s not already.”
Weiner said Saturday that he is taking a leave of absence from the House while he seeks treatment. The New York Democrat is in week No. 3 of a scandal that erupted after he was found to be sending explicit photos of his body parts to women he met through his Twitter account.
The plan to seek professional help didn’t satisfy House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats, who called for his resignation anyway.
It’s not yet clear what Pelosi’s next move will be, assuming Weiner continues to ignore his party leaders. Cantor suggested the California Democrat should strip Weiner of his committee assignments.
Some Republicans are suggesting Pelosi could apply pressure by expressing disapproval for Weiner’s request for a leave of absence.
That would be a first in recent memory. Such requests, which are usually made to deal with a health issue, are usually approved with little or no controversy.
Typically, the member submits a request to a House leader or another member, who then submits it to the House for approval by unanimous consent. The member is not required to state a reason for the absence, said House Rules Committee spokeswoman Jo Maney.
To express disapproval, Democrats could refuse to submit the request to the House or any member could ask for a roll call vote on the matter. While the option could add to pressure on Weiner, neither would have much of an immediate impact, noted Maney.
Members typically continue to collect pay when they miss a series of votes, regardless of whether they’ve formally requested a leave.
A senior Democratic aide said the GOP was using the Weiner scandal to shift attention away from its economic agenda.
“The bottom line is that Rep. Weiner should resign, and the GOP is engaged in a pathetic attempt to grab headlines in order to distract from their no-jobs agenda," the aide said. "It’s been 160 days since the GOP took control of the House, and Americans are still asking: Where are the jobs, House Republicans?”