Video: Amid scandal, Rep. Massa steps down news services
updated 3/8/2010 6:21:49 PM ET 2010-03-08T23:21:49

A New York lawmaker who resigned from Congress Monday accused Democratic leaders of using an investigation into a sexual harassment complaint to force him to step down before the House holds a close vote on health care legislation that Massa has opposed.

“Now they’ve gotten rid of me and it will pass,” said Rep. Eric Massa, one of 39 Democrats who voted against an earlier version of the bill last year.

Speaking on a radio program on Sunday, Massa admitted that he made a sexually-charged comment to an aide during a staffer’s wedding, but said that he was a welcome target for Democrats who will “stop at nothing” to pass an overhaul of the nation’s health insurance system.

“You connect the dots,” he said of the timing of the investigation.

Massa focused his ire on White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, calling the former Illinois representative a “son of the devil's spawn.”

“He is an individual who would sell his mother to get a vote,” Massa said of Emanuel. “He would strap his children to the front end of a steam locomotive."

The ethics inquiry arose as the result of Massa’s use of “salty language” during a New Year’s Eve wedding for a member of his staff, whom Massa did not identify during his description of the incident during his weekly radio program on WKPQ-FM in Hornell, N.Y.

The New York lawmaker said that after dancing with a bridesmaid, a staff member colorfully implied that Massa “should be chasing after” the woman.

“I grabbed the staff member sitting next to me and said, ‘Well, what I really ought to be doing is fracking you.’” Massa said. “And then [I] tossled the guy’s hair and left, went to my room, because I knew the party was getting to a point where it wasn’t right for me to be there. Now was that inappropriate of me? Absolutely. Am I guilty? Yes.”

Joel Barkin, the Deputy Secretary of State for Public Affairs in New York, confirmed to NBC News that Massa's letter of resignation was received and filed late Monday, making his resignation official. His letter to the Speaker of the House will read into the record on the House floor Tuesday.

Massa, 50, cited his recent recurrence of cancer when he announced on Wednesday that he would not run for re-election after serving only one term in Congress.

With Massa's resignation, House Democrats will need 216 votes to pass a current version of Democrats' health care legislation. But Democrats will still have to woo other wavering members of their own party who have voiced concerns about the cost of the bill as well as its language regarding abortion coverage.

NBC's Shawna Thomas contributed to this report.

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