The House on Monday approved a request by Rep. Anthony Weiner for a two-week leave of absence. The New York Democrat has said he plans to seek professional treatment, following his admission last week that he had communicated inappropriately online with more than a half-dozen women around the country.
The leave request was submitted by Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), a longtime friend and former roommate of Weiner’s, and approved by unanimous voice vote. Weiner will continue to receive his congressional salary of $174,000 a year during the leave, according to the Committee on House Administration.
Pressure on Weiner to resign intensified Monday as President Obama waded into the controversy for the first time, telling NBC’s Ann Curry that if he were in Weiner’s shoes, he would resign.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also restated Monday her call for Weiner to step down, although she emphasized that it was beyond the power of congressional leaders to oust Weiner.
“None of us, not anybody here, has the power to force somebody out of office,” Pelosi told reporters. “That person has to decide himself as to whether he will stay or he will go. And that, I hope that the president having spoken and some leaders in Congress speaking out, that Congressman Weiner will hear this and know that it’s in his best interest for him to leave Congress.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) suggested Monday that Democratic leaders should consider stripping Weiner of his perch on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, such as Democrats did in 2006 when then-Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) was embroiled in a federal bribery investigation.
But Pelosi said that Democratic leaders, who huddled privately Monday afternoon, are focused solely on the issue of whether Weiner should resign.
“This is beyond committee assignments,” Pelosi said. “This is we are asking to leave. We never asked Mr. Jefferson to do that.”