The Republican Party chairman said Tuesday that Rep. Anthony Weiner should resign after admitting to sexually charged online relationships with several women and lying about his misdeeds.
The New York congressman seemed increasingly isolated from even his fellow Democrats Tuesday, as House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi formally requested a House ethics probe and the Senate's top Democrat declined to publicly defend him.
Reince Priebus said in a statement that either Pelosi and Democratic chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz believe that members of Congress are held to a different standard, or they believe the congressman's actions demand his departure from the House.
The Democratic National Committee did not have an immediate comment.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid delivered a rebuff to Weiner, a clear sign of the frustrations fellow Democrats have with a scandal they want to see over as soon as possible.
"I know Congressman Weiner," Reid told reporters. "I wish there was some way I could defend him, but I can't."
Asked what he would say if Weiner called him for advice, Reid said "call somebody else."
The National Republican Congressional Committee also seized on the Weiner scandal as a 2012 campaign issue, issuing press releases calling on more than a dozen House Democrats to return campaign contributions from Weiner.
One of them, Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, said she was donating a $1,000 campaign contribution last year from Weiner to a local charity.
Republicans sought to turn Pelosi's celebrated campaign pledge in 2006 to "drain the swamp" of corruption and ethical abuses in Washington against the Democrats.
"After dragging her feet while her colleagues abused their office, it is past time that Leader Pelosi take a small step to start draining the swamp her party waded in while she was Speaker," said Paul Lindsay, communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee in a statement.
GOP ethics woes helped Democrats take control of Congress in 2006.
Weiner vowed on Monday he would not resign his seat, and apologized repeatedly at a news conference for his actions.
Pelosi and other members of the Democratic leadership voiced their disappointment in Weiner and pointedly urged the House ethics committee to launch an investigation to determine if the outspoken New York Democrat broke House rules. Their calls came shortly after the married Weiner's profuse public apology for "inappropriate" online exchanges with six women.
The second-ranking House Democrat, Maryland's Steny Hoyer, called for Weiner to make full disclosure.
The chilly reception from his House colleagues contrasted sharply with the fate that befell fellow New York Rep. Christopher Lee, who sent a shirtless photo of himself to a woman he met on Craigslist. Within a matter of hours of the photo being disclosed, the Republican met with House Speaker John Boehner and resigned.
House Republicans have stated there would be zero tolerance for misbehavior by members in their ranks. And even if Weiner did nothing illegal, House ethics rules state that members must comport themselves in a manner befitting their office, enough to trigger an investigation into Weiner's online social life.
New York's senior senator, Chuck Schumer, said in a statement that he was "deeply pained and saddened by today's news. By fully explaining himself, apologizing to all he hurt and taking full responsibility for his wrongful actions, Anthony did the right thing. He remains a talented and committed public servant, and I pray he and his family can get through these difficult times."
Weiner on Monday admitted sending a lewd photo of his underwear-clad crotch to a young woman over Twitter and then lying repeatedly to protect himself.
The extraordinary confession at a packed Manhattan news conference was a remarkable turn of events for the brash Weiner, who conceded to a "hugely regrettable" lapse in judgment.
Weiner insisted he had done nothing wrong and said he would fully cooperate with a House inquiry.
Weiner said he used his home computer and personal Blackberry, not government computers, in his exchanges with the women. But that may not protect him from House rules that say a member "shall conduct himself at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House."
On numerous occasions, the House ethics committee has cited that general rule in finding that a lawmaker violated standards of conduct.
Weiner also acknowledged that he had engaged in inappropriate contact with six women over the course of three years through social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook and occasionally over the phone. He said he had never met or had a physical relationship with any of the women and was not even sure of their ages. He also said he had never had sex outside of his marriage.
Weiner said over and over that he had made "terrible mistakes" and done "a very dumb thing" for which he alone bore responsibility, and he apologized repeatedly to his wife, Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"My wife is a remarkable woman. She's not responsible for any of this," he said. "I apologize to her very deeply."
Abedin did not attend his news conference, but Weiner said they would not be separating over the scandal.
The scandal began more than a week ago when a conservative website reported that a photo of a man's crotch had been sent from Weiner's Twitter account to a college student in Seattle.
For days, Weiner claimed that he hadn't sent the photo and that he was the victim of a hacker. But he caused guffaws when he said that he couldn't say with "certitude" that the underwear shot was not a picture of him.
The scandal escalated Monday when the website, BigGovernment.com, run by conservative activist Andrew Breitbart, posted photos purportedly from a second woman who said she received shirtless shots of the congressman. The site said the pictures were in a cache of intimate online photographs, chats and email exchanges the woman claimed to have. The website did not identify the woman.
Appearing on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday, Breitbart threatened to make public what he described as an X-rated picture, which he called "an insurance policy" against any attacks from Weiner.
Also on Tuesday, the celebrity website RadarOnline.com said a woman claimed to have 200 sexually explicit messages from Weiner through a Facebook account that Weiner no longer uses. It was not clear whether the woman who claimed to have the new photo was the person who claimed to have received the text messages.