House Speaker and Leader of the GOP, John Boehner, resigned on Friday. Adding to what was already a historic day following the Pope’s address to Congress, Boehner announced in a press conference that he would be stepping down from his seat as Speaker of the House. Boehner had held the position since 2011.
Boehner became the first House speaker since Thomas P. O’Neil Jr. in 1986 to leave the position willingly. Boehner was noted as saying that he was “exhausted” by the push within his party for spending cuts and policy changes, as well as the inevitable push back from the Democrats with a Democratic president in office.
The final policy push was from the conservative’s fight for Planned Parenthood funding. This latest partisan stalemate was so strong that a government shutdown was looming, and the resignation of Boehner will now lessen those chances. For the remainder of the year, leaders from both parties can come together and decide on a short term conclusion to keeping the government operating without the deterrence of a Speaker.
Boehner, 65, seemed content with his decision, claiming that he never even expected to climb the conservative ladder in the way that he did.
“I never thought I’d be in Congress, let alone be the Speaker,” Boehner said.
However, this decision had been on Boehner’s mind for a while. The Republican Party’s push for Boehner to be more aggressive with Obama and other Democrats proved to be detrimental to the conservative agenda, and Boehner’s unwillingness to be more upfront caused a rift between him and his GOP agitators. He supposedly had already been in office longer than anticipated, and claimed that the only reason he ran again for the position of Speaker last January was because his next in line, Eric Cantor, lost his seat to former Randolph-Macon professor, Dave Brat, in last year’s historic 7th congressional district election.
His party’s displeasure with him made his departure from the seat inevitable.
In the last Republican vote in January, 25 Republicans voted to strip Boehner of his seat, leaving him to rely on House Democrats to keep his job. Conservatives and Democrats alike have had mixed reactions to Boehner’s resignation.
Senator Marco Rubio aligned himself with the more hardcore right wing policy makers of the House and said that “the time has come to turn the page and allow for a new generation of leadership.” President Obama was quoted as calling Boehner a “good man” and “a patriot,” despite the constant bickering between the two leaders over policy issues.
The clear-cut favorite to replace Boehner is House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California. Some other candidates in discussion are Wisconsin Republican, Paul Ryan, who is also the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, as well as House Majority Whip, Steve Scalise of Louisiana. Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers of Washington and the Budget Committee Chairman from Georgia, Tom Price, have also been thrown in to the mix.
Boehner claimed that the disconnection between him and the more conservative lawmakers in his party came from some members’ delusion in terms of the governmental system.
When asked if those playing hardball in Congress were unrealistic, Boehner answered, “Absolutely they’re unrealistic!”
“The whole idea that we were going to shut down the government to get rid of Obamacare in 2013, that plan never had a chance,” Boehner continued.
Those extreme “right wingers” who effectively pushed Boehner out of his seat will now have to sift through their resources and try to find a new Speaker that, hopefully this time, will suit their needs.
-Sean Ryan ’18, Junior Politics/Opinions Editor