• Paxon quit the House GOP leadership last week.
  • Earlier, questions arose about whether the speaker's lieutenants were exploring ways to depose him.
  • Last week's House leadership vote tested Gingrich's standing.
  • Read recent Post stories and opinion pieces about the controversy.


  • July 17 resignation letter from Paxon to Gingrich.
  • Paxon's written statement explaining why he left the House GOP leadership.
  • July 16 statement by the House majority leader on reported efforts to oust Gingrich.

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  • Gingrich Won't Seek House Changes

    By Tom Raum
    Associated Press Writer
    Tuesday, July 22, 1997; 2:22 p.m. EDT

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- Speaker Newt Gingrich has decided against seeking any changes in the top ranks of House Republican leaders, at least for the time being, his office said today.

    Despite questions about the role that senior leaders played in a failed plan to topple Gingrich, the speaker ``would prefer to keep the focus on the tax cut as opposed to any challenge to the leadership,'' said his press secretary, Christina Martin.

    She said that message ``has been conveyed'' to rank and file Republicans.

    Last week, as details of an aborted coup surfaced, Gingrich accepted the resignation of Rep. Bill Paxon of New York, who held an appointed position in the leadership. That left three other leaders wondering about their own fate -- Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas, Rep. Tom DeLay, the majority whip, and Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, who ranks fourth in the leadership.

    As elected leaders, the three can only be replaced by a vote of the GOP caucus, or conference. There has been some sentiment among Gingrich loyalists for seeking a vote of no-confidence against the three this week, but Ms. Martin said Gingrich's preference is otherwise, at least for the time being.

    Officials also said Republicans would hold their regularly scheduled party caucus on Wednesday, and were not scheduling a hurry-up session for Tuesday night, as some had wanted.

    Gingrich himself declined comment, and was spending much of the day closeted with other Republican leaders in meetings devoted to pending tax cuts and balanced-budget legislation.

    Questions have been raised about the loyalty of Armey, DeLay and Boehner, who meet individually with dissidents unhappy with Gingrich's leadership. DeLay, in particular, has come under scrutiny for reportedly telling the dissidents in one late-night meeting he would support their attempt to topple the speaker.

    A scrappy former exterminator who posed for a magazine story a year ago with bullwhip in hand, DeLay has vowed to fight for his job, and brushed aside any talk of resignation.

    As House majority whip, the 50-year-old Republican from suburban Houston has a knack for counting votes and making deals. And his followers say he believes he can weather an effort to oust him.

    ``He's getting a bum rap,'' said DeLay spokesman John Feehery. ``He's not going to resign; he has no intention of resigning. He's a valuable asset to the Republican Party.''

    GOP dissidents say they were encouraged in their anti-Gingrich scheming by the third-ranking DeLay. DeLay has maintained a public silence on the episode.

    If Gingrich tries to replace DeLay out of revenge, as some Gingrich loyalists are suggesting, it wouldn't be the first time the two have crossed swords.

    DeLay backed another Republican when Gingrich ran for his first leadership post in 1989. And after Republicans seized control of the House in 1994, DeLay got his current job by defeating Gingrich's handpicked choice, then-Rep. Robert Walker of Pennsylvania.

    At best, the two have enjoyed a rocky working relationship.

    DeLay, who ran a pest-control business before getting into politics, is no stranger to controversy.

    An ideological conservative, he is blunt-spoken and makes no apologies for being an active political operator, once declaring: ``I'm a hard-working, aggressive, persistent whip. That's why I'm whip.''

    Congressional whips are responsible for day-to-day management of legislation and for lining up votes -- by bullying tactics if necessary -- in support of party leadership positions.

    To drive home his job, he keeps a bullwhip on a table in his office. And he posed with a bullwhip for an article in the September 1996 Texas Monthly.

    Colleagues refer to him, not always respectfully, as ``The Hammer.''

    Armey and DeLay came to the House in the same year, 1985, and have mostly been friends.

    ``They're both combative souls and a little mean-spirited at times,'' said Bruce Buchanan, a political scientist at the University of Texas.

    DeLay got into a shoving match in April with Rep. David Obey, D-Wis. DeLay uttered a vulgarity and shoved Obey before the two were separated by a DeLay aide.

    DeLay, who maintains close ties to Christian conservatives, has been a tireless advocate for conservative causes, including lower taxes and less regulation.

    His attempts as a member of the House Appropriations Committee to cut back on environmental regulations generated protests from many, including moderate Republicans.

    In a floor speech in 1995, DeLay branded the Environmental Protection Agency ``the Gestapo of government.''

    Of the Republican leaders implicated by some in the abortive anti-Gingrich plot, DeLay is the only one who hasn't publicly denied any role.

    And that may be bringing him some grudging respect from other Republicans. Rebels are reportedly angry with denials of involvement by Armey and Boehner.

    Rep. Bill Paxon of New York stepped down last week as Gingrich's appointed leadership chairman as a result of the controversy. But GOP renegades have said Paxon had less involvement in the scheme than did the others.

    According to some GOP accounts, Armey was interested in the move until he learned that the renegades were poised to elect Paxon -- not Armey -- to succeed Gingrich.

    Gingrich on Monday urged Republicans to put down the knives and work together. ``There comes a time when, in order to succeed, a team must work as a team,'' the Georgia Republican told an audience in Smyrna, Ga.

    Speaking of his own predicament, Gingrich said, ``You know, I don't quit.'' But he offered no hint whether he will seek the ouster of DeLay or any other members of the Republican leadership.

    Various of the GOP renegades have said DeLay had given them the go-ahead to offer a motion to ``vacate the chair'' at a meeting earlier this month.

    ``We walked out believing completely that that was Tom DeLay's intent,'' says Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona.

    A DeLay aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, conceded that DeLay had met with the group of 18 dissident Republicans. But, the aide said, he did so ``trying to understand the depth of their anger with the leadership'' and did not actively participate in the overthrow plot.

    © Copyright 1997 The Associated Press

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