Top Republican urges Weiner to quit in sex scandal

By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top Republican in the Congress Tuesday joined a growing chorus of bipartisan calls for Democratic lawmaker Anthony Weiner to resign in the face of an Internet sex scandal.

A day after the House of Representatives granted Weiner a two-week leave of absence to receive unspecified professional help, House Speaker John Boehner said simply, “Yes,” when asked by reporters if the 46-year-old liberal should step down.

Weiner has defied calls from leaders of both parties to relinquish his $174,000-a-year job after his belated admission last week that he sent online messages and lewd photos of himself to at least a half dozen women and lied about it.

Democrats say Weiner has become a troublesome distraction for their party as it gets ready to try to win back the House from Republicans in next year’s election.

Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, 35, a senior aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is expected to return Wednesday from a trip to Africa with Clinton.

“His wife is coming back, and the message is loud and clear that he has to go,” a senior Democratic aide said. “The sooner the better.”

House Democrats have options to try to increase pressure on Weiner — such as passing a non-binding resolution urging him to go, booting him from their caucus or even removing him from the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said: “He is now hopefully considering what action he ought to take …. I believe it would be very difficult for him to proceed (as a member of Congress) given the circumstances.’

“I hope he is seriously considering taking a course that will take him out of this context … and deal with his own personal life and not be burdened by being a member,” Hoyer said.

President Barack Obama weighed in during an interview on Monday, saying he would resign if he were in Weiner’s position.