Word from top Democratic officials that Congressman Anthony Weiner would seek treatment is new but the revelation he intends to take a leave of absence is not.
Weiner's top supporter in the House, Congressman Charles Rangel, who was censured in November for violating 11 house ethics rules, similarly asked for time away from Capitol Hill to fight those ethics charges.
In order to avoid my colleagues having to defend me during their elections, I have this morning sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi asking her to grant me a leave of absence until such time as the ethics committee completes its work, he said last year.
At the time, current House Speaker John Boehner, said he could not understand such a request.
I'm curious about how this will be interpreted under the House rules, said Boehner. There is nothing in the rules of the House that refers to temporarily stepping aside.
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Deputy House historian Fred Beuttler disagreed saying leaves of absences aren't so uncommon.
Beuttler said the duty of lawmakers is to report to their constituents, there is no formality besides notifying the speaker and House leadership of their intent to take a leave. There is no request or requirement to demonstrate illness related to his or her absence.
In 2007, Weiner's Brooklyn colleague, Congresswoman Yvette Clark announced a 6-week leave of absence after she underwent uterine fibroid surgery.
The best known leave in the House, was when Speaker Sam Rayburm (D-TX), went on leave for medical care in August of 1961, his illness became terminal months later, prompting a leadership fight in the Democratic party before his death on November 16, 1961.