Republicans reward DeLay with plum committee spot

    House GOP leaders proved Wednesday that they reward, not punish,
    corruption by giving scandal-scarred Rep. Tom DeLay, forced to step
    down as the No. 2 Republican in the House, a coveted seat on the
    Appropriations Committee.

    DeLay, R-Texas, also claimed a seat on the subcommittee overseeing
    the Justice Department, which is currently investigating an
    influence-peddling scandal involving disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff
    and his dealings with lawmakers. The subcommittee also has
    responsibility over NASA — a top priority for DeLay, since the Johnson
    Space Center is located in his Houston-area district.

    “Allowing Tom DeLay to sit on a committee in charge of giving out
    money is like putting Michael Brown back in charge of FEMA —
    Republicans in Congress just can’t seem to resist standing by their
    man,” said Bill Burton, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional
    Campaign Committee.

    GOP leaders also named California Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon as
    chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee. Majority Leader
    John Boehner, R-Ohio, vacated that post after winning a campaign to
    replace DeLay.

    McKeon is a seven-term conservative who has a generally good
    relationship with educators. He authored a 2001 law to remove
    disincentives for workers who would have lost part of their Social
    Security benefits when switching jobs to become public school teachers.

    DeLay was able to rejoin the powerful Appropriations panel _ he was
    a member until becoming majority leader in 2003 _ because of a vacancy
    created after the resignation of Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif.
    Cunningham pleaded guilty in November to charges relating to accepting
    $2.4 million in bribes for government business and other favors.