Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-OH has made his resignation from his speakership and Congressional seat official Friday afternoon, Sept. 25, 2015 in a press conference. Boehner’s announcement comes just hours after he made the decision and let his Republican conference in on his plans in an early morning meaning meant to discuss averting a government shutdown. Boehner will officially resign on October 30 from both the speakership he assumed in 2011 and the congressional seat he has held for the last 25 years.
Boehner made the surprise announcement at a closed-door GOP conference meeting, less than 24 hours when he had his crowning moment finally being able to bring the Pope to Capitol Hill addressing a joint session of Congress. It also came hours after Boehner agreed to put up the Senate clean spending bill funding the contentious Planned Parenthood to a vote in the House in order to avert a government shutdown, a move 31 conservative Tea Party members made clear would mean a non-confidence vote and the possibility of an ouster, a chance Boehner decided not to take.
Instead, Boehner decided to go out on a high note, but apparently, it was still a very difficult decision for Boehner to make as he was fighting back tears at the press conference announcing his decision. Boehner’s words replicated those an aide revealed were said at the conference meeting earlier in the day. The outgoing speaker declared, “The first job of any Speaker is to protect this institution that we all love.”
Boehner revealed how and when he decided to resign, expressing, “Last night I started thinking about this and this morning I woke up and I said my prayers — as I always do — and I decided today’s the day I’m going to do this. As simple as that.”I decided today is the day I’m going to do this, simple as that,”
Continuing he said had previously planned to resign last year, but his heir apparent Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-VA was unexpectedly defeated in the mid-term election primary. Boehner explained, “It was my plan to only serve as Speaker until the end of last year, but I stayed on to provide continuity to the Republican Conference and the House.”
Boehner also commented on why he decided now to resign referring to the conservative faction looking to oust him Boehner was blunt saying, “I got plenty of people following me but this turmoil that’s been churning now for a couple of months, it’s not good for the members and it’s not good for the institution. If I was not planning on leaving here soon I can tell you I would not have done it.”
The Speaker made it clear he was putting what was best for the country above all else, saying, “It is my view, however, that prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution. To that end, I will resign the Speakership and my seat in Congress on October 30.”
Meeting Pope Francis the day before and the Pope’s address to a joint session of Congress was something Boehner a devout Catholic had been working for 20 years profoundly affected the Speaker’s decision to resign. Boehner mentioned that at the press conference, “The pope puts his arm around me and kind of pulls me to him and says please pray for me. Who am I to pray for the pope? But I did.”
Speaker Boehner’s office also released a statement about the resignation, expressing the following:
“My mission every day is to fight for a smaller, less costly, and more accountable government. Over the last five years, our majority has advanced conservative reforms that will help our children and their children. I am proud of what we have accomplished.
“The first job of any Speaker is to protect this institution that we all love. It was my plan to only serve as Speaker until the end of last year, but I stayed on to provide continuity to the Republican Conference and the House. It is my view, however, that prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution. To that end, I will resign the Speakership and my seat in Congress on October 30.
“Today, my heart is full with gratitude for my family, my colleagues, and the people of Ohio’s Eighth District. God bless this great country that has given me – the son of a bar owner from Cincinnati – the chance to serve.”
Republicans are now lobbying to succeed Boehner as speaker. Among the prospective candidates are House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and House leaders Reps. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington. Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Tea Party conservative Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho are also other possible candidates who might campaign for the post. Boehner however, gave his blessing to McCarthy, praising that he “would make an excellent speaker.”
Boehner will now be able to work freer to ensure that a clean spending is passed, and a government shutdown is averted. Boehner firmly believes a shutdown would cause irreparable harm to the country and the GOP chances in the 2016 elections. Boehner will be able to work with Democrats to pass the bill a move he has done in the past in difficult situations where it was essential to put the good of the country above partisanship. Working with Democrats drew the ire of Conservatives who considering funding Planned Parenthood the last straw.