Friday, September 25, 2015


House Speaker John Boehner told lawmakers Friday that he plans to resign at the end of October, in a stunning development that comes amid mounting friction with the conservative wing of the party.  

He plans to step down as speaker, and resign from Congress. 

The 13-term Ohio Republican shocked his GOP caucus early Friday morning when he informed them of his decision in a closed-door session. One lawmaker told Fox News he was "stunned," and that there was "some anger" in the room "against the people who caused this to happen."

The announcement came one day after the high point of Boehner's congressional career, a historic speech by Pope Francis to Congress at Boehner's request. To the backdrop of that day's pageantry, though, Boehner was facing an internal battle in the House GOP caucus over Planned Parenthood funding and threats by some in the conservative wing to challenge his speakership. 

Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said Boehner "just does not want to become the issue. Some people have tried to make him the issue both in Congress and outside." 

Conservatives have demanded that any legislation to keep the government operating past Wednesday's midnight deadline strip Planned Parenthood of his funds, a move rejected by more moderate lawmakers. 

Boehner took over the speakership in January 2011. The decision to step down was closely held; Fox News is told House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was only informed of Boehner's decision "one minute" before Boehner told the GOP conference. 

A Boehner aide noted the speaker's original plan was to serve "only through the end of last year," yet former House GOP leader Eric Cantor's primary loss last year "changed that calculation." But the aide seemed to make clear reference to the internal turmoil. 

"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 believes putting members through prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution."

The aide added: "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 House will need to hold an election to select a new speaker. The last speaker to resign in the middle of a Congress was Jim Wright, D-Texas, amid an ethics scandal in 1989. 

Boehner's decision removes the possibility of a damaging vote to strip him of his speakership, a scenario that grew more likely amid the conservative clamor over a shutdown. 

While the news Friday roiled Boehner allies, some conservatives welcomed his announcement. 

Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas said "it's time for new leadership," and Rep. Tom Massie of Kentucky said the speaker "subverted our Republic." 

But more mainstream Republicans said it would be a pyrrhic victory for Tea Party-aligned lawmakers. 

"The honor of John Boehner this morning stands in stark contrast to the idiocy of those members who seek to continually divide us," said Rep. David Jolly of Florida. 

Boehner was first elected to the House in 1990 and soon established a strongly conservative record. He was part of former Speaker Newt Gingrich's leadership team when Republicans took over the House in 1995 for the first time in four decades but was ousted from his leadership role in the wake of the GOP'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 retook the chamber. 

As speaker, his tenure has been defined by his early struggles to reach budget agreements with President Obama and his wrestling with the expectations of Tea Party conservatives who demanded a more confrontational approach. 

In 2013, conservatives drove him to reluctantly embrace a partial government shutdown in hopes of delaying implementation of the new health care law. 

Conservative voters roared in a standing ovation Friday at the Values Voter Summit in Washington after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) announced Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) plans to retire.

Rubio, who is running for president, shared the news that broke just before his speech, working it into prepared remarks where he questioned why a Republican Congress isn't "able to stop our country from sliding in the wrong direction."

"Just a few minutes ago, Speaker Boehner announced that he will be resigning," Rubio said to thunderous applause.

He told the crowd it is time for Republicans to "turn the page."

"With all due respect to people who serve in government, it is important at this moment, with respect to him and the service he has provided to our country, it’s not about him, and I’m not here today to bash anyone, but the time has come to turn the page."

Boehner shocked Washington on Friday morning by announcing that he will resign the Speakership and his congressional seat in October.

The Speaker has often clashed with conservatives during his tenure, leading many of the 2016 hopefuls to bash him from the campaign trail.

Boehner is also trying to avoid a government shutdown next week amid a battle over funding for Planned Parenthood.
Post a Comment