WASHINGTON — Idaho Sen. Larry Craig's political support eroded significantly Wednesday as three fellow Republicans in Congress called for his resignation and party leaders pushed him from senior committee posts.

The White House expressed its disappointment, too — and nary a word of support for the 62-year-old lawmaker, who pleaded guilty earlier this month to a charge stemming from an undercover police operation in an airport men's room.

Craig "represents the Republican party," said Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, the first fellow GOP member of Congress to urge a resignation.

Craig said Tuesday he had committed no wrongdoing and shouldn't have pleaded guilty. He said he has only recently retained a lawyer to advise him in the case that threatens to write an ignominious end to a lifetime in public office.

Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Norm Coleman of Minnesota joined Hoekstra in urging Craig to step down.

McCain spoke out on an interview with CNN. "My opinion is that when you plead guilty to a crime, you shouldn't serve. That's not a moral stand. That's not a holier-than-thou. It's just a factual situation."

Coleman said in a written statement, "Senator Craig pled guilty to a crime involving conduct unbecoming a senator."

For a second consecutive day, GOP Senate leaders stepped in, issuing a statement that said Craig had "agreed to comply with leadership's request" to step down temporarily as the top Republican on the Veterans Affairs Committee as well as two appropriations panels.

"This is not a decision we take lightly, but we believe this is in the best interest of the Senate until this situation is resolved by the ethics committee," said the statement, issued in the name of Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the party leader, and others.

On Tuesday, the leaders jumped ahead of Craig's appearance before television cameras in Idaho to announce they had asked the ethics committee look into the case.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said, "We are disappointed in the matter," without specifying exactly what was causing the discomfort.

He said he hoped the ethics committee would do its work completely, "as that would be in the best interests of the Senate and the people of Idaho."

For their part, Democrats studiously avoided involvement with an unfolding Republican scandal.

"We at least ought to hear his side of the story.," said Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, like McCain a presidential contender who spoke on CNN.