In news that shocked Republican lawmakers throughout Congress, House Speaker John Boehner announced that he will retire from Congress at the end of October. The move comes following one of his crowning achievements as Speaker – bringing Pope Francis to the White House.
One of Boehner’s aides stated that, “The Speaker believes putting members through prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution. 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.”
Boehner’s departure will catalyze an intense battle for leadership among GOP lawmakers. While next in command is House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the present unrest among Republican members of Congress may cause others to vie for the Speaker position.
Boehner’s retirement clears the way for House Republicans to approve a short-term funding bill that will prevent a shutdown of various federal agencies. The Republicans said that with the Speaker’s retirement, there was agreement to pass a clean spending bill to prevent the government shutdown. Conservative lawmakers who were holding out on supporting the bill will now do so without their demands to defund Planned Parenthood as part of it. Republican Representative John Fleming stated that, “The commitment has been made that there will be no shutdown.”
After voting on the clean spending bill, Republican lawmakers will move on to considering the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, i.e., ObamaCare, and the defunding of Planned Parenthood.
Many lawmakers released statements regarding the Speaker’s announced retirement. Representative Paul Ryan said he did not want the job and stated that, “This was an act of pure selflessness. John’s decades of service have helped move our country forward, and I deeply value his friendship. We will miss John, and I am confident our conference will elect leaders who are capable of meeting the challenges our nation faces.”
Others did not have such kind words for Boehner. Representative Tim Huelskamp voiced his belief that, “[Obama has] run circles around us since John Boehner was speaker of the House. I think [his retirement] is a victory for the American people.” He also added that it was “clear that [Boehner] did not have the votes to remain as speaker unless Nancy Pelosi helped him out, which is obviously a very vulnerable position.”
In fact, Boehner’s camp stated that his retirement means that he is able to walk away on his own terms rather that relying on support from Democrats or being voted out of his position.