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Delay will still call the shots using Blout as a puppet but Abramoff Scandal heating up!!

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House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert told Rep. Tom DeLay yesterday that DeLay will keep a prominent leadership role even after his indictment, a pledge that came as the powerful Texan's departure as majority leader touched off a scramble by other Republicans hoping to gain influence from his absence.

The new majority leader, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), moved into his new Capitol suite, consigning DeLay to smaller quarters for rank-and-file members across the street at the Cannon Office Building. But Hastert, at an early-morning meeting, assured DeLay that his reduced status will not mean sharply reduced influence in running the caucus and setting the party's course for the 2006 elections, Republicans familiar with the session said.

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