"While I have tremendous respect for the speaker and applaud his ability to manage a diverse conference, I feel the time is right for us to do some soul searching and have an open dialogue about the direction of the House," Sweeney said in a statement.
"The speaker may rightly be re-elected, but fresh ideas should be part of the discussion."
The highest ranking member of the New York House delegation, National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Tom Reynolds, praised Delay's decision to step down:
"Tom DeLay's decision to step down as majority leader today demonstrates the same brand of selfless devotion and unyielding dedication that we have come to expect during Tom's tenure as our leader," Reynolds, R-Clarence, said in a statement.
"It has been a privilege to serve alongside Tom ... and I look forward to working with him in the future," Reynolds said.
Previous news reports on the Delay-Abramoff-Norquist scandal have implied the Denny Hastert is safe in his role as Speaker of the House but with Hastert a major receiver of tainted Abramoff money it seemed only a matter of time before his leadership too would be put to the question.
Always closely allied with Tom Delay, Denny Hastert owes his role as Speaker to the indicted Delay. He was widely expected to bring peace and civility to a badly divided House when first elected but has presided over a Republican House regularly and roundly critized for abandoning any civility or pretense for following long established rules. Some members of the Democratic caucus say the House has descended terribly under his leadership and has never been anywhere near this bad in it's history.
Hastert himself has from the start been a big player in the increased role and influence of lobbyists in House politics. The next man in line, Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri has also been closely tied to the failed leadership of Tom Delay with some expecting that he may face his own problems as the full story of the Delay-Abramoff-Norquist scandal comes to light.
Is this the opening salvo of a move by the New York delegation to elevate Rep. Tom Reynolds to Speaker? Or is this something the very ambitious John Sweeney, stymied in his own desires to become Governor of New York, doing on his own?
The Republican House leadership certainly needs a complete and thorough overhaul. I'm just not sure that the likes of Rep. John Sweeney will make it any cleaner.