Traficant under increasing pressure to resign
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Pressure mounted Tuesday on Rep. James Traficant, D-Ohio, to resign his seat in Congress after being convicted last week on corruption charges.
First, House Republican leader Dick Armey told reporters Traficant should resign. Then Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, took to the floor to say he will file a motion to have Traficant expelled.
"I think it would be better for the House if he is gone," Armey said.
Armey joined his Democratic counterpart, Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, in calling for Traficant's resignation, but Armey said he personally would not move to expel him nor would he use his leadership status to approach Traficant about stepping down.
"It's not my job to take care of Democrats," Armey said.
Sensenbrenner, in brief remarks on the House floor, said he would introduce an expulsion resolution Tuesday.
"Regretfully, this resolution is necessary as Mr. Traficant foolishly rejected the call of the Minority Leader to resign," Sensenbrenner said. "Felons belong in jail and not in Congress. He has broken the public trust by breaking the law and if he will not voluntarily leave this House, our duty is to remove him."
Sensenbrenner's resolution would not receive immediate action by the full House, where a two-thirds vote is needed to expel someone. Instead, his motion would go to the House Ethics Committee, which has already begun investigating Traficant. The Ethics Committee would consider the expulsion motion, along with other measures, when it officially recommends punishment.
Traficant decided to stay in Ohio this week. An aide said Monday that Traficant hoped if he stayed away no one would try to expel him.
"Most people basically feel Congressman Traficant should resign," Armey said. "If he tries to vote on the floor we will probably move (to expel him). There is probably a fairly large number of people who have that sentiment."
But Armey said many members are also prepared to allow the Ethics Committee to complete its investigation of the nine-term lawmaker's legal woes.
"Most of us are prepared to let it ride through the Ethics Committee," said Armey, who added he expects the committee to complete its work in a "matter of a few weeks."
Armey said he believes the committee will conclude that Traficant should be expelled from Congress.
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