We're hearing that the House Republican Caucus may have at least partial closure to the Tom DeLay drama by Monday morning, perhaps sooner depending on how hot the phone lines get over the next 36 hours.
By then, Republicans will have have pulled together the requisite 50 members formally requesting an election for leadership posts.
The petition drive is not being driven by senior members of the caucus who might also be candidates for leadership positions, we are told. Rather, it is the tier of Republicans just below them that is driving this train. At least two regional whips are said to be involved in the lobbying to pull together the "Gang of 50."
As we reported before Christmas, GOP House leaders meeting on St. Michael's Island after Thanksgiving anticipated such a petition would be forwarded to the caucus after the holidays, particularly if the Texas courts didn't clarify Leader DeLay's legal predicament any further.
According to one Hill source we spoke to over lunch, if the group gets the necessary signatures for the election request, Rep. DeLay will be given the opportunity to make a face-saving gesture that at least superficially would allow the caucus to move ahead without much rancor internally.
"We all know there are going to be a lot of hurt feelings. There will be some additional backstabbing and Congressman DeLay will probably exact a certain amount of revenge on those he blames for this taking place, but we have to do this. The cost of not doing it will be a lot higher longterm to the party," the source says.
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