Impact of the DeLay Indictment on Congress and the GOP

Sarah Binder, an expert on Congressional procedure and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and professor of political science at George Washington University, was online at on Friday, Sept. 30, to discuss the indictment against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and its impact on the GOP, Congress and the 2006 midterm elections.

Washington, D.C.: DeLay is out as Majority Leader, however, he and Hastert are talking about some kind of role he will continue to play. If House rules stipulate that he must step down, then shouldn’t he be required to be completely out of the leadership? I think it makes the House rules a sham if he continues to play a role even if it is behind the scenes.

Sarah Binder: You raise an interesting point about the near-term role designed for Mr. DeLay. Theoretically, he would be in compliance with the House Republican Conference rules that require indicted leaders (specifically those indicted for crimes that could land them in jail for 2 years) to temporarily step down. But my hunch is that if he plays too active role behind the scenes, it will not pass the sniff test– even if he remains formally in compliance with party rules. (Note– this is a House GOP rule, rather than a standing rule of the House.) It could be that Mr. DeLay’s legal defense work occupies much of his time this fall, making it difficult for him in any case to be an active part of the conference.

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