Rep. Tom DeLay, removed as House Republican leader after an indictment in Texas, predicted a quick return to his former post yesterday, setting up a clash with moderate Republicans who see him as a possible liability for the party.
Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) told CNN's "Late Edition" he was no longer comfortable with DeLay as party leader. "We got elected basically by saying we would live by a higher moral standard, and I don't think recently we have," Shays said.
"Tom's problem . . . is continual acts that border and go sometimes beyond the ethical edge," Shays said.
In an interview with "Fox News Sunday," DeLay dismissed the charges of violations of Texas campaign finance laws as having been instigated by Democrats, who he said have long sought to oust him from his powerful position.
Asked if the "DeLay era" was over in Congress, he replied: "Oh, I don't think so. . . . I am indicted just for the reason to make me step aside as majority leader. This is politics at its sleaziest, and people will recognize that."
"I think it will be over and be over very, very soon, and I think I will go back and be majority leader."
Meanwhile, he said he will continue to exert influence through his close ties to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). "I get to continue my partnership with the speaker," he said.
Asked if he would help set the party's agenda, DeLay replied: "I wouldn't call it running the show. I call it working together to get our agenda done just like we've done for the last 11 years."
Speaking on CBS's "Face the Nation," Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), who heads the House Rules Committee, said of DeLay: "He's not going to still run things. He knows he's not going to run things. But he's clearly a member of Congress, and he's a very important part of the team."