Republicans moved on Tuesday to seek Rep. William J. Jefferson’s expulsion from Congress, a day after the Louisiana Democrat was indicted on charges of taking more than $500,000 in bribes.
Jefferson, meanwhile, relinquished his seat on the House Small Business Committee before members of his own party could vote to kick him off the panel.
In a two-paragraph letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Jefferson, 60, said he was taking the step “in the light of recent developments in a legal matter.” He acknowledged no wrongdoing.
Republicans, citing Pelosi’s election-season promise to run the most ethical House in history, sought Jefferson’s expulsion from the chamber, possibly before he comes to trial on the bribery charges.
Republican Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio was pushing for a vote late Tuesday on a resolution to bar Jefferson from serving on any House committee and to direct the ethics committee to decide by July 11 whether the allegations in the indictment merit his expulsion, according to a partial draft of the document obtained by The Associated Press.
Specifics were uncertain because the resolution was still being written.
It’s unusual for the House in a resolution to specifically instruct the ethics committee to report whether a member’s expulsion is warranted. Usually such resolutions leave it to the committee to recommend appropriate sanctions after its investigation.
The unusual directive produced a rare retort from the chairwoman of the House ethics committee.
“It is inappropriate for any other member to impose on these proceedings,” Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, chairwoman of the Standards of Official Conduct committee, said in a statement that did not mention Boehner by name. “I refuse to allow these proceedings to be politicized by House Republican leadership.”
An ethics committee probe seemed certain. Pelosi, D-Calif., later Tuesday was expected to name 10 House Democrats to a pool from which the House ethics committee can pick if it decides to appoint a special subcommittee to investigate the charges against Jefferson.
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