In news that shocked Washington and Congress, Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner will resign from his leadership post and his House seat on October 30. An aide to Boehner confirmed that the speaker told the Republican conference in a meeting on Friday morning, Sept. 25, 2015 about his decision. Boehner, 65 was facing challenges from Conservative Tea Party members of the Republican House who for years having been trying to unseat him, his latest debacle has been the fight to defund Planned Parenthood, but to also pass a spending bill to a avert a government shutdown.
The aide told the press about Speaker Boehner’s plans, after a closed-door meeting with the Republican caucus Friday morning, which shocked and stunned all members attending. The aide revealed, “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.” Boehner’s decision comes a day after Pope Francis became the first Pope to deliver an address to a joint session of Congress; it is considered Boehner’s “crowning achievement.”
The aide addressed the talk about a coup saying, “The Speaker believes putting members through prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution.” Concluding, the aide expressed, Boehner “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.”
Conservatives in the House have been threatening a coup to unseat Boehner from his speakership, the chatter becoming louder in the past couple of days. At the center is Conservatives opposition to passing any spending bill that will fun Planned Parenthood after videos surfaced this summer that the reproductive health organization takes fetal tissue and organs and sell them for medical research.
Conservatives want the government to shutdown rather than fund Planned Parenthood, and have been threatening a shutdown or a coup on Boehner if he does not stand by them and insist on the spending bill defunding the organization. Among these members calling for a coup, are 31 conservatives led by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), who have sent Boehner a letter about opposing any spending bill that does not defund Planned Parenthood. These same representatives are threatening a no confidence vote. Boehner refuses to allow the government to shutdown, believing it is wrong for the country and the Republican Party’s chances to retain Congressional control and capture the White House in 2016.
Supposedly, Boehner intended to step down after the 2014 midterm election but then his heir apparent for former Majority Leader and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) who in an equal shock was defeated in the state primary in June 2014 and resigned in August that year. Boehner was first elected to Congress in 1990 in Ohio and has been speaker for the last five years since the GOP gained control of the House in 2010. Boehner refused to have to rely on Democrats to survive a no confidence vote, and did not want to be ousted midterm from the speakership.
Just last week, Boehner seemed confident and defiant against leaving his speakership telling donors “Look, this group of guys is not going to knock me off my stride.” While Boehner spokeswoman Emily Schillinger expressed, “The Speaker isn’t going anywhere. He’s focused on the American people’s priorities and how we can accomplish them.”
Conservatives are accepting of Boehner’s new heir the New Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, (R-CA), however, having been the Majority Leader for just over a year and been in Congress only 10 years as the Washington Post notes, “many believe he lacks the political and tactical gravitas to be a force in the House.”
Boehner’s resignation ensures there will not be a government shutdown on Oct. 30, and that a clean continuing resolution, spending bill will be passed. Republicans expect a heated race for the speakership and even before the announcement, they have been behind the scenes jockeying for the post.