(AP) by David Espo
Embattled Rep. Tom DeLay decided Saturday to give up his post as House majority leader, clearing the way for new leadership elections among House Republicans eager to shed the taint of scandal, two officials said.
These officials said DeLay, R-Texas, was preparing a letter informing fellow House Republicans of his decision. These officials spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they did not want to pre-empt the formal announcement.
DeLay is battling campaign finance charges in Texas and was forced to step aside temporarily as majority leader last fall after he was charged in his home state. He has consistently maintained his innocence and said he intended to resume his leadership post once cleared.
His about-face came amid growing pressure from fellow Republicans who were concerned about their own political futures in the wake of this week's guilty pleas by lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt, the party whip who temporarily has filled in for DeLay, was expected to run for majority leader.
Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, a former member of the leadership, is also likely to run.
Elections are likely the week of Jan. 30, when lawmakers return to the Capitol.
DeLay intends to remain in Congress, these officials said, and plans to seek a new term in November.
DeLay acted hours after a small vanguard of Republicans circulated a petition calling for leadership elections and citing DeLay's legal problems as well as his long ties to Abramoff.