House Speaker Boehner to quit Congress next month

25 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Aide: Boehner Felt ‘Putting Members Through Prolonged Leadership Turmoil Would Do Irreparable Damage To Institution’.

Washington: The leader of the US House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner, stunned fellow Republicans yesterday, saying that he would resign from Congress at the end of October, giving up one of the most powerful jobs in Washington and his seat in the House in the face of hardline conservative opposition. Boehner, second in line to succeed the president and into his 13th two year-term, informed the Republican caucus meeting of his decision in a closed-door session. Boehner had battled conservatives aligned with the Tea Party for most of his nearly five years as speaker, and in recent weeks they had threatened to try to oust him from power if did not pursue a strategy of defunding Planned Parenthood that would have likely led to a government shutdown.

It came one day after a high point of Boehner’s congressional career, a historic speech by Pope Francis to the Republican-controlled Congress at Boehner’s request. The Ohio lawmaker, 65, stunned Republican House members at a morning meeting on Friday with the announcement he will leave the top job in the 435-seat chamber and resign his seat effective on Oct. 30. In retirement, I’ll have more time for what I really love: repealing Obamacare.” “No one knows how much time one is allotted on this planet,” Boehner, striking a somber tone, said. “But if the Lord above grants me good health, I will repeal Obamacare thousands of times before my journey ends.” Conservatives said that if Boehner failed to fight on the government spending bill, they would call up a procedural motion to “vacate the chair” and demand the election of a new speaker.

A focus of conservatives’ complaints, Boehner “just does not want to become the issue,” said Republican John Mica, a Republican. “Some people have tried to make him the issue both in Congress and outside,” Mica said. Conservatives have demanded that any legislation to keep the government operating past next Wednesday’s deadline strip women’s healt care provider Planned Parenthood of government funds, an argument rejected by more pragmatic lawmakers. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the No. 2 House Republican, quickly became the leading contender to replace Boehner as speaker, lawmakers said.

Representative Paul Ryan, a former U.S. vice presidential candidate, told reporters in a Capitol hallway that McCarthy would likely be the next speaker. 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. The dispute had threatened Boehner’s speakership and roiled the GOP caucus. “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. Boehner’s decision comes just a day after what was arguably his most memorable moment as speaker: The Irish Catholic son of a barkeep hosted Pope Francis in the first-ever address by a pontiff to Congress. Boehner has faced constant pressure from conservatives who believed he was too willing to compromise with President Barack Obama and too likely to rely on Democratic votes to pass crucial legislation.

Conservative group Heritage Action for America said in a statement that Boehner’s resignation “is a sign that the voice of the American people is breaking through in Washington.” “Americans deserve a Congress that fights for opportunity for all and favoritism to none. The approaching confrontation over government spending had raised the prospect of another possible challenge to his speakership by conservatives, something Boehner has beaten back several times before. “I saw him recently and he looked weary. The aide said Boehner wanted to avoid a leadership fight and believed another bout of prolonged turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution. Boehner then worked his way back up the leadership ladder, first becoming minority leader and then speaker after Republicans reclaimed the House majority in the 2010 election.

Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors, said: “The near-term news is good in that it suggests that Boehner is going to get a clean bill through as his last act as Speaker, but the question becomes what happens post-Halloween and who the new speaker is going to be.”

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