NY Assembly Speaker to Step Down

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -

Sheldon Silver, the longtime Speaker of the New York state Assembly, agreed to give up the position he has held for 21 years in the wake of federal charges, a top lawmaker announced Tuesday.

Silver did not address his colleagues or reporters on Tuesday but late Monday night said he expected to be exonerated.

The decision announced by Majority Leader Joseph Morelle came after Democratic lawmakers met behind closed doors for two days to discuss their response to the turmoil that appears likely to end one of the longest active tenures in American state politics.

“He said to me he will not impede the transition,” said Morelle, surrounded by most of the 105 Assembly Democrats. “We’ll have a vacancy on Monday.”

As majority leader, the No. 2 post in the chamber, Morelle will be the interim speaker from the moment Silver resigns until the lawmakers formally convene again Monday. At that point, they plan to amend their rules to keep Morelle as interim speaker until Feb. 10. That’s intended to give any other member a chance to express interest and explain how he or she would lead, said Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti.