House members return to work today.
Leaders, including House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) have press time planned--on other topics. Hastert is scheduled to talk to reporters later today, and I will attend.
But no matter the set topic-- the fallout from the resignation of Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) will be the big story from the Hill today.
Here's DeLay's own statement, followed by a statement put out this morning by Hastert.
Address to the Constituents of the 22nd District of Texas
For the past 21 years as your Congressman, it has been an incredible honor to represent the citizens of the 22nd District of this great state of Texas.
What a pair of decades we have lived together.
When I started in politics, I was inspired by the optimism and conservative principles embodied by one of our greatest presidents, Ronald Reagan.
Since I first asked for your votes for Congress back in 1984, America has moved closer to, not further from, the "shining city on a hill" that he so magnificently described.
She has risen from malaise, won a cold war and a few hot ones, and liberated hundreds of millions across Europe and tens of millions of Afghans and Iraqis.
At home, we moved from policies that had long empowered government to finally empowering citizens, taxpayers and communities...initiating sweeping and positive change across all facets of American society.
While in Washington in that first decade of service, I was also privileged to be part of another triumph...finally providing Americans with a strong, competitive two party system at the national level.
Our efforts culminated in the transformational election of 1994 in which voters elected Republican majorities in both Houses of the United States Congress.
I was then honored by my Republican colleagues to be selected as one the top four House leaders as Majority Whip and later Majority Leader.
Together, we put policies in place to renew America's security, prosperity, and families.
We adopted year after year of tax relief, which led to growth so strong it has not only propelled our economy, but has spurred economic growth across the globe.
We reformed welfare, moving tens of millions of good Americans from poverty to work and opportunity.
We passed litigation reform, to begin freeing our economy from the shackles of frivolous lawsuits.
And, we approved reforms in energy, telecommunications, transportation and other areas as well, all of which had been bogged down and blocked by those who ran Congress for the 40 years before our election.
Today, the war on terror - one-sided for years as we suffered attack after attack from the World Trade Center to the USS Cole - has been joined and is being won around the world.
Unemployment hovers near historic lows. Home ownership at all time highs.
Partial-birth abortion has been banned. Unborn victims of violence are now protected in law.
And the new Supreme Court is home to two of the finest young jurists of their generation.
Here in the district, we have worked hard on and accomplished dozens of major priorities, including creating tens of thousands of new jobs, providing the region with the vision and resources to achieve world class mobility, revitalizing our space program with new vision and priorities.
And we've done it all on the enduring strength of our principles and our ideas.
As I reflect on these past two decades of public service, I have enjoyed every minute of it.
I have been proud and privileged both to serve the Texans of the 22nd district in the great institution of the people's House; and also to serve with some of the most incredible, dedicated, energetic, and thoughtful people in Congress, and in the leadership teams of both the House and Senate.
It has also been an honor to work closely with one of Texas' favorite sons, a president with great moral integrity and leadership, George W. Bush. His Administration has done much to restore the type of principled leadership that President Reagan demonstrated and that first drew me to seek service in our Nation's capitol.
In the same vein, I also have been proud to make whatever contribution I could to the conservative movement to which I feel so strongly connected and the enduring national conservative majority that has been transforming our nation for the past decade.
For the opportunity to participate in all of these endeavors, I remain deeply thankful to the voters and constituents of the 22nd District for their faith and their votes.
Now, however, after many weeks of personal prayerful thinking and analysis, I have come to the conclusion that it is time to close this public service chapter of my life.
It's time to begin opening new chapters and pursuing new opportunities to engage in the important cultural and political battles of our day from outside the arena of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Because I care so deeply about this district and the people in it, I refuse to allow liberal Democrats an opportunity to steal this seat with a negative, personal campaign.
The voters of the 22nd District of Texas deserve a campaign about the vital national issues that they care most about and that affect their lives every day, and not a campaign focused solely as a referendum on me.
So today, I am announcing my intention to resign my seat in the House. I will make that resignation effective sometime before mid-June, but largely dependent on the congressional calendar. I plan to begin focusing on the next phase of my life as a private citizen.
Between now and the date that I leave the House, however, I will continue to focus on and tend to several important legislative priorities for the 22nd District.
Also during this period, I will determine the new ways from various arenas outside of public office that will allow me to continue to contribute to and engage in the policy, political, and cultural issues of national importance to the conservative majority.
With that plan in mind, I also intend to relocate to my Virginia property and reside closer to Washington, so that I can dedicate the necessary time and energy to making a successful transition from the public to private sectors for myself and family.
With the news of my decision, there of course will be great speculation among the political pundits and media about my reasons both for this decision and its timing. I am quite certain most will put forward their opinions and conclusions devoid of, and unencumbered by accuracy, facts, and truth, so I thought I might try to make everyone's job a little easier.
The people of the 22nd district have been extremely loyal and true to me, and throughout my service to them, I have always done the same. I have always acted solely on my beliefs and convictions, nothing more.
I have no fear whatsoever about any investigation into me or my personal or professional activities.
As one of my colleagues in the House leadership astutely observed a while back, the wheels of justice turn much more slowly than the wheels of allegation.
I will be quite content to be judged when the passage of time has provided both all of the facts and a greater sense of perspective than is possible for most today.
As difficult as this decision has been for me, it's not going to be a great day for liberal Democrats, either.
My loyalty to the Republican Party - indeed, my love for the Republican Party - has played no small part in this decision.
Having served under Republican and Democrat control in the House, I know first hand how important it is for Republicans to maintain their national majority. A Democrat Congress in 2007 would, without doubt or remorse, raise hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes, summarily cut and run from the war on terror, and immediately initiate an unconstitutional impeachment of President Bush.
However certain such antics might make a Republican resurgence in 2008, the times are too grave to waste even two years in the life of this nation...and allow even one more vote for their agenda of pessimism and failure.
Equally precious to me are the remaining years of my own life, and I look forward with both joy and curiosity to the future God holds for me.
I know for certain that I plan to devote a good deal more of my time and energy to fully completing Rio Bend, the foster care community built by the DeLay Foundation for Kids and opened in 2005.
The community is partially completed and currently providing permanent, loving, stable families to 27 formerly abused and neglected children.
I believe the model we have established here for these children in Fort Bend County can be duplicated elsewhere, and I look forward to working through the Foundation to make that a reality for foster kids around the country.
Eleven years into the Republican Congressional majority and six years into the Bush Administration, our nation has much to show for our leadership.
But as proud as I am of our record over that time, I am fully aware that record is incomplete.
We still need to redesign government.
We still need to chuck our current, broken systems of taxation, regulation, and litigation, which hamstring our economy and health care systems - and replace them with pro-growth, pro-innovation, pro-individual alternatives.
We need to ensure the basic human rights and dignity of the unborn and unwanted are protected under the law, and that judges adhere to their important but limited role in our constitutional framework.
I look forward to traveling the country and listening to conservatives, helping grassroots leaders to develop a unifying agenda and a strategy to enact it, to learn from past setbacks and build on our successes.
Finally, no success in my career could ever match the one truly great success of my life - my marriage.
In the summer before our junior year in high school, I was asked to look after a girl named Christine, and I have ever since, for more than 42 years now. She has done an even greater share of looking after me.
She is the reason I have ever accomplished anything in politics or in life, and the reason I am so looking forward to this next phase in our life.
Thank you Christine.
There are many others to thank as well....a word of heartfelt thanks to my base of many loyal supporters who have stood beside me for more than 20 years and sent me 11 times to represent them in Washington.
In addition, to all of the local elected officials in the 22nd District, and in the greater Houston area, you have been tremendous partners in getting things done for our shared constituents and for the good of those communities. Thank you as well for your support and loyalty.
I also have had incredible support in so many ways - financial, emotional, simple words of encouragement or thoughtful prayers - from so many people all over Texas and all over the country. My sincerest thanks goes to all of them as well.
Finally to the people I work closest with on a daily basis in Washington, the great team of Republicans from all over this country that makes up the House Republican Conference. I am so proud to have been a part of that successful team, and to have so many great memories from hard-fought victories and the personal relationships, friendships and bonds that many of us have shared. Those are some of my greatest treasures.
Today is obviously not an easy one for me, but difficult days always demand the most from us, and, in that sense, are the ones most worth living.
I have no regrets today, and no doubts.
I am proud of the past. I am at peace with the present.
And I am excited about the future, which holds, as always, America's brightest days... and mine, too.
Thank you, and may God bless you all. He has certainly blessed me.
Speaker Hastert Comments on Rep. DeLay's Resignation
(Washington, D.C.) House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) today released the following statement regarding the resignation of Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX):
"Over the last 11 years, Tom DeLay has been a most effective Majority Whip and Majority Leader for our Conference, and I am sorry to see him leave the House of Representatives. As the Speaker of the House, I have been thankful for his assistance in leading the House Republican Conference and helping to pass historic legislation, like successful Medicare reform, tax relief and trade legislation that opened new markets to American products and ideals. Because of his efforts, we have restored our national defense, strengthened the economy, created jobs for our workers and improved the lives of thousands of American families.
"More importantly, as someone who has served with Tom in the House for 19 years, I am appreciative for his years of unwavering friendship. He embodies the term steadfast and perseveres through even the toughest attacks on Republican ideals and principles. His firm faith in God and his love of family and country is admirable.
"House Republicans will continue to move forward with an aggressive agenda on behalf of the American people. In fact, this week we will take up a budget resolution that lays out a blueprint for our spending priorities in the coming year and keeps our promise to be responsible with taxpayer dollars. We have a bold vision, and our agenda will continue."
# # #