June 14, 2011— -- The U.S. House Monday approved Rep. Anthony Weiner's request for a temporary leave of absence but today his colleagues made clear their hopes that never comes back.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters he thinks Weiner should resign, adding his name to a growing list of Democrats who share the sentiment.
"Our caucus understands our concern for the rights of the individual member," Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said after a meeting with House Democrats, "but also our higher responsibility to our country to uphold a high ethical standard in the Congress of the United States."
Former Ethics Committee chairwoman Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., said bluntly, "I think he should resign."
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, one of Weiner's Democratic colleagues in the New York congressional delegation, said the decision to resign is a personal one, but added "hopefully, we're hearing he might resign in a couple of days."
Pelosi, who has acknowledged that Weiner cannot be forced out of office, said she expects the embattled congressman to see the writing on the wall.
"I hope that with the president having spoken and some leaders in Congress speaking out that congressman Weiner will hear this and know that it's in his best interest to leave Congress," she said Monday night, hours after President Obama suggested in an interview that Weiner step down.
Weiner announced Sunday that he is "seeking treatment" for an undisclosed condition at an unknown location outside New York. The House has approved a leave of absence for two weeks.
Meanwhile, Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, will return from an overseas trip with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton early Thursday morning and is expected to meet with her husband in person for the first time since the sexting scandal broke.
Experts say the pressure on Weiner from Obama and top Democratic Party leadership is highly unusual, if not unprecedented, because he has not been charged with or convicted of breaking any laws or House ethics rules.
"Usually presidents stay out of this stuff because it's just tradition for Congress to decide its own matters," Princeton University political historian Julian Zelizer said. " I can't remember a comparable scandal when a president did that. It's a very easy thing not to say anything."
Pelosi, for example, had never before called on a fellow Democrat to resign, making Weiner a first. She avoided pressuring Reps. William Jefferson, Jim Traficant and Charles Rangel to leave office, all of whom were found guilty of charges related to their use of political power.
"The irony of the Weiner situation is that there have been scandals when the leadership has been much more quiet in both parties," Zelizer said.
"Congressional leaders traditionally, at least since the 1960s, have been more willing to deal with personal scandals than the kind of scandals that touch on the way Congress works. This is about him, and pictures and Twitter, and there's kind of a safety in dealing with that issue. It's less comfortable to talk about interest groups and their contributions to Congress."
If Weiner chooses to resist pressure from party leadership and continue his political career, there is ample precedent for such a move and even the likelihood he could get re-elected, Zelizer said.
A new poll from the Pew Research Center finds Americans relatively forgiving of sex scandals and marital infidelity, with 55 percent of men and 59 percent of women saying that their cases are more often in the spotlight because of greater public scrutiny rather than having lower moral standards.
And in Weiner's New York district in Queens and Brooklyn, a majority of registered voters -- 56 percent -- seem inclined to give him a second chance and want him to remain in office, according to a recent poll.