Boehner To Resign

Published: September 26, 2015

Boehner To Resign, House Speaker John Boehner told colleagues Friday that he would resign from Congress at the end of October, a stunning move that came as hardline conservatives were threatening his leadership.

The 13-term Ohio Republican has led an unwieldy GOP majority since January 2011, frequently clashing with a group of conservatives who want to aggressively confront the Obama administration in budget fights.

“The speaker believes putting members through prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution,” a Boehner aide said Friday.

Boehner himself ducked reporters at the Capitol who were expecting him at a press conference.

“It’s a wonderful day,” was all he said.
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Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) emerged from a GOP meeting where Boehner announced his decision to say that members were “stunned,” according to The Hill.

“Everybody’s still in sort of a state of shock,” Mica said.

According to Mica, Boehner told members that he thought opposition to his role as speaker was becoming a distraction from broader policy debates.

“He just does not want to become the issue,” said Mica. “Some people have tried to make him the issue, both in Congress and outside. We’ll just have to regroup. We faced challenges before.”

In a sign of how Boehner’s relations with combative conservatives had worn thin, there was a standing ovation at the conservative Values Voters summit in DC Friday when Sen. Marco Rubio mentioned Boehner’s announcement in the middle of a speech.

House Speaker John Boehner becomes emotional as Pope Francis appears on the Speaker’s Balcony on Capitol Hill on Sept. 24.Photo: AP
“I’m not here to bash anyone, but the time has come to turn the page,” Rubio said after the sustained applause.

With government funding set to expire at the end of the month, a band of conservatives was pushing to force a de-funding of Planned Parenthood, a move that is certain to provoke another standoff with the White House and a possible government shutdown.

Boehner was staring down a possible coup, and met with a small group of conservatives Thursday evening.

Boehner’s spokeswoman told Roll Call just last week that the speaker “isn’t going anywhere.”

His announcement comes just a day after he hosted Pope Francis in Congress, completing a dream he had worked two decades to achieve. The emotive Boehner shed tears in the House chamber during Francis’ speech.

On Thursday evening as he left the Capitol, Boehner told two reporters – one from POLITICO and another from the Washington Post – that he had nothing left to accomplish after he brought Pope Francis to the Capitol.

When asked if he was resigning, Boehner laughed before exiting into a waiting SUV with his Capitol Police detail.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the No. 2 Republican in the House, is expected to be the top contender to replace Boehner as speaker, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) told reporters, Reuters reported.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was also mentioned as a possible successor.

But he quickly took himself out of contention, saying he doesn’t want the post.

Boehner’s aide insisted his boss had actually planned to leave earlier.

“Speaker Boehner believes that the first job of any speaker is to protect this institution and, as we saw yesterday with the Holy Father, it is the one thing that unites and inspires us all,” the aide said.

“The speaker’s plan was to serve only through the end of last year. Leader [Eric] Cantor’s loss in his primary changed that calculation He is proud of what this majority has accomplished, and his speakership, but for the good of the Republican Conference and the institution, he will resign the speakership and his seat in Congress, effective October 30,” the aide added.

Boehner was elected in 1990 and established a conservative record. He was part of former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s leadership team when the GOP took over the House in 1995 but was ousted from his leadership role in the wake of the party’s disappointing performance in the 1998 midterms.

He won a 2006 race to succeed Tom DeLay as the House’s No. 2 Republican when DeLay stepped aside as majority leader. He took over as the top Republican in the House in 2007 after Democrats assumed control.

He became speaker after Republicans took over Congress in 2010.

Pressured by conservatives in 2013, he reluctantly accepted a partial government shutdown in hopes of delaying implementation of the new health care law.

Tea party lawmakers have been pressing him to retry the tactic to try to take away federal funding from Planned Parenthood after controversial videos emerged involving its practices of procuring fetal tissue for research.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Boehner “will be missed by Republicans and Democrats alike.”

“Speaker John Boehner is a decent, principled conservative man who tried to do the right thing under almost impossible circumstances,” he said in a statement.

“Let us hope the Republican majority, which Speaker Boehner played a large role in creating, learns the right lesson from his resignation: to work with Democrats in a constructive way, rather than let a handful of extreme right-wingers dictate his party’s policy.”

Some conservatives welcomed Boehner’s announcement Friday.

“It’s time for new leadership,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas said.

Boehner “subverted our Republic,” added Rep. Tom Massie of Kentucky. “I think it was inevitable. This is a condition of his own making right here.”

Mainstream Republicans downplayed the victory.

“The honor of John Boehner this morning stands in stark contrast to the idiocy of those members who seek to continually divide us,” Rep. David Jolly of Florida said. “The shutdown caucus as I call them has a small victory.”

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