Embattled Democratic Congressman Temporarily Gives Up Key Duty

Embattled Rep. Pete Visclosky, who leads a powerful House spending subcommittee, has asked a fellow lawmaker to manage a key bill that funds the federal government.

The Indiana Democrat's announcement comes as a federal grand jury subpoenaed Visclosky's campaign and congressional offices in connection with an investigation into the defunct lobbying group PMA.

Visclosky chairs the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, one of 12 panels that divide the federal budget pie each year. Chairs of such subcommittees wield so much power that they are often called "cardinals," a nod to Rome to illustrate what imminence these lawmakers have over their section of federal spending.

Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz, will now handle the more than $30 billion in federal spending that Visclosky was on schedule to manage. Visclosky did not resign his chairmanship of the Energy and Water panel.

In a statement, Visclosky says he has "always abided by the law and adhered to the rules and code of ethics of the House." He made no reference to FBI's inquiry of PMA.

PMA has ties to several "cardinals," including Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who leads the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. The FBI has not targeted Murtha and he has given no indication that he would ask another lawmaker to handle spending bills for him.