WASHINGTON - Rep. Don Young of Alaska has stepped down under pressure as lead Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, saying he wants to focus on clearing his name in a corruption investigation.
Young, a former chairman of the Resources panel, said he was making his decision for the good of the Republican Party and called it a temporary move.
But three Republican officials said Young acted after House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, told Young privately he would oppose Young if he sought another two years in the Resources post.
Young's decision means he loses seniority as well as control over hiring most of the Republican staff on the panel. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday, saying they were not authorized to discuss the events.
Republican leaders are expected to meet Thursday to recommend a replacement. Possible candidates include Reps. Doc Hastings of Washington and Rob Bishop of Utah.
Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., told The Associated Press on Wednesday night he is not seeking the position.
A spokesman for Hastings confirmed that Hastings is seeking the ranking spot on Resources. Hastings is on leave from the committee after serving on the Rules Committee for many years. His central Washington district is heavily forested with many federal lands.
"These are issues he works on day-to-day and weekly basis," said chief of staff Todd Young, who is no relation to Don Young.
Don Young, who was re-elected last month to a 19th term as Alaska's sole House member, is under investigation by the Justice Department for his ties to VECO Corp., an oil services company at the center of the public corruption probe of Sen. Ted Stevens, who was defeated for re-election last month.
Young has denied wrongdoing. His campaign has spent more than $1 million on his legal expenses.