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Wednesday, February 28, 2007
House GOP to object to Jefferson's Homeland Security seat
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- House Republican Whip Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, announced Wednesday that Republicans will object on the House floor to Rep. William Jefferson, D-Louisiana, getting a seat on the House Homeland Security Committee.

Jefferson is entangled in a federal bribery investigation related to his dealings with a telecommunications company. Federal investigators found $90,000 in cash in his freezer in 2005 after Jefferson allegedly accepted a $100,000 bribe from an FBI informant. Despite the investigation, Jefferson was re-elected to a ninth term to his New Orleans' seat in a run-off election in December.

Blunt called the move by the Speaker Pelosi, who trumped ethics reform in last fall's congressional campaign, "such a contradiction to what the Speaker said she stood for during the campaign."

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-South Carolina, defended Pelosi, pointing out Jefferson hasn’t been charged with any crime. "Since when did an allegation become an indictment? There are still allegations here, and how many allegations have been leveled against Republicans, that they don't seem to remove them from any committee?" Clyburn asked.

After the House Democratic caucus approved the committee assignment last night, the matter moves to the House floor. Typically committee assignments are passed unanimously on the floor without recorded votes. But Blunt told reporters on Wednesday that Republicans will object when the issue comes up on the floor and request a recorded vote.

Blunt said, "I think our side will generally think that this is not only not a good idea but totally inconsistent with the major point that the Speaker made when she wanted to be the Speaker - that this would not be allowed, that there were penalties on their side. And the idea that Homeland Security is somehow less important than the tax-writing committee I think is a ludicrous idea."

A senior Democratic aide accused Republicans of being hypocritical. "Look at the list of senior Republicans under investigation who continue to receive intelligence briefings. This just shows that this is a ploy from the Republicans and is nothing more that political bomb throwing," the aide added.

Blunt conceded that Republicans do not have the votes to block Jefferson's appointment to the committee.

-- CNN Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh

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