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House Democrats step up pressure on Weiner

Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., closes the front door of his building on reporters as he arrives at his house in the Queens borough of New York, Thursday, June 9, 2011.
Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., closes the front door of his building on reporters as he arrives at his house in the Queens borough of New York, June 9, 2011. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Democrats on Tuesday stepped up the pressure on Rep. Anthony Weiner to resign as House Speaker John Boehner broke his silence in the scandal surrounding the New York Democrat and called for him to quit.

"Should he resign? My answer is yes," Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) said when confronted by a scrum of reporters as he went in to a regularly scheduled meeting of House Democrats to discuss issues of the day, including the role of speculators in the oil markets.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi brought up the situation surrounding Weiner, who has admitted to sending sexually explicit photos and messages to about six women using Facebook, Twitter and text messages.

"I wanted to be sure that they knew why I came to the conclusion that with the love of his family, the confidence of his constituents and the need for help that Congressman Weiner should resign from the Congress," Pelosi told reporters after the nearly two-hour meeting.

While the California Democrat has been calling for Weiner's resignation since Saturday, Weiner has refused to budge. The matter is deeply personal and his wife, Huma Abedin, is in Africa with her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They are expected to return to Washington Wednesday and several Democrats suggested Weiner may be waiting for her return to make a decision.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) said she hopes Weiner would step down.

"We're hearing that he might resign in a couple of days," she said, without elaborating.

Not all Democrats were calling for his resignation, and a pair of key figures notably remained mum on the topic. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) each expressed dismay at his conduct without calling for him to leave office.

If Democrats really want Weiner to go there is little they can do to make it happen quickly.

Pelosi has called for ethics investigation, but that process can take a year or even longer. The most the Democrats can do is put the pressure on Weiner by kicking him out of the caucus which would require the approval of two-thirds of their members.

They could also strip him of his committee assignment on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, a move that would require a simple majority approval. The caucus cannot even meet to discuss such an option without giving members five days notice.

"It's going to be up to him: we can't do anything about it to be very honest with you," said McCarthy.

When asked if Congress should be able to move faster to get a member like Weiner to resign, Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) stood by the ethics process. He said that the ethics process takes a long time because "finding all the facts does take long."

The shortest term strategy for Democrats who want Weiner to resign is to just keep calling for his resignation. Pelosi told reporters at least three times in the last 24 hours that Weiner must go. Former ethics panel chair Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) also joined the chorus of members calling for Weiner to resign today. And President Obama said that if it were him, he would resign.

The House approved a two-week leave of absence for Weiner last night.

Weiner's spokesperson and consultant Risa Heller said Saturday that Weiner had departed to "seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person."

Asked where Weiner is seeking treatment and exactly what he is seeking treatment for, Heller told CBS News Tuesday his office "won't be providing that."

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