WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top Republican in the Congress Tuesday joined a growing chorus of bipartisan calls for Democratic lawmaker Anthony Weiner to resign in the face of an Internet sex scandal.
A day after the House of Representatives granted Weiner a two-week leave of absence to receive unspecified professional help, House Speaker John Boehner said simply, “Yes,” when asked by reporters if the 46-year-old liberal should step down.
Weiner has defied calls from leaders of both parties to relinquish his $174,000-a-year job after his belated admission last week that he sent online messages and lewd photos of himself to at least a half dozen women and lied about it.
Democrats say Weiner has become a troublesome distraction for their party as it gets ready to try to win back the House from Republicans in next year’s election.
Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, 35, a senior aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is expected to return Wednesday from a trip to Africa with Clinton.
“His wife is coming back, and the message is loud and clear that he has to go,” a senior Democratic aide said. “The sooner the better.”
House Democrats have options to try to increase pressure on Weiner — such as passing a non-binding resolution urging him to go, booting him from their caucus or even removing him from the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said: “He is now hopefully considering what action he ought to take .... I believe it would be very difficult for him to proceed (as a member of Congress) given the circumstances.’
“I hope he is seriously considering taking a course that will take him out of this context ... and deal with his own personal life and not be burdened by being a member,” Hoyer said.
President Barack Obama weighed in during an interview on Monday, saying he would resign if he were in Weiner’s position.
Additional reporting by Donna Smith, Richard Cowan and Deborah Charles; Editing by Cynthia Osterman