The House agreed Monday to give Rep. Anthony Weiner a paid two-week leave of absence from Congress while he undergoes therapy.
The request, which was submitted on the New York Democrat’s behalf by Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Mass.), was granted under a unanimous consent agreement. The time off gives Weiner the opportunity to try to ride out his sex scandal, but he will likely be met by significant hostility from fellow Democrats if he returns to the Capitol.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reiterated that Weiner should step down when asked during a news conference Monday evening whether he could be stripped of his sole committee assignment.
“If we are asking him to leave, we certainly [are] not going to welcome him here with committee assignments,” she said.
Democratic aides would not rule out the possibility that the Caucus could remove Weiner from the Energy and Commerce Committee or even push him out of the Caucus. House Democrats are scheduled to meet Tuesday morning.
Democrats continued on Monday to pressure Weiner to step down, with President Barack Obama telling the “Today Show” that “if it was me, I would resign.”
It is unclear how Weiner’s absence will affect his staff and constituents. Although he is known as a notoriously difficult employer, he has had little in the way of significant legislative accomplishments while in the House. Constituent services and other work will continue.
Under House rules, Members are still responsible for their offices’ finances and staff during a leave of absence. Decisions would likely be delegated to a high-ranking staffer, as is the case in the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The Arizona Democrat’s chief of staff, Pia Carusone, is managing daily affairs while the lawmaker rehabilitates from a gunshot wound.
The Clerk of the House would only get involved if a Member dies, resigns or is expelled. In that case, the office would remain open and staff would remain on the House payroll under the supervision of the clerk.