John Boehner could cash in as a lobbyist once he leaves Congress

26 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Boehner, behind the tears.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The gulf between tea party conservatives and establishment Republicans has grown so wide that it just swallowed up the speaker of the House, and may threaten the entire Republican Party and Congress itself. House Speaker John Boehner’s stunning announcement that he will resign his post and seat in Congress sparked chaos on Capitol Hill Friday, with lawmakers immediately jockeying for position ahead of the upcoming reshuffle.

WASHINGTON: The “regular guy with a big job” has seemed at the centre of palace intrigue forever, a man to shake things up in the old days, to be plotted against on and off ever since. The 13-term Ohio Republican shocked his GOP caucus early Friday morning when he informed them in a closed-door session that he intends to step down at the end of October.

There was nothing regular about John Boehner’s rise and fall and rise and fall in the House, nothing constant except that tan and the smoke-filled rooms wherever he was allowed to light up. The moment was emblematic of a years-long struggle for the soul of the Republican party, a high-stakes battle that has publicly unfolded in often ugly and always dramatic fashion. On the marble floor were pieces of masking tape with the names of elected officials scrawled in black, marking the places were they stood to greet Pope Francis hours earlier. Boehner’s announced exit as House speaker and from Congress altogether caps a political career that began as the head of a homeowners association in an Ohio neighbourhood and made him second in line to the presidency.

As the highest-ranking Republican in Washington, Boehner has spent the greater part of the last four years as the face of that turmoil and, by his own admission, decided to step aside in part to restore a sense of calm. With the GOP presidential contest riding an anti-establishment wave, it’s almost mandatory for the candidates to denounce Republican congressional leaders at the first sign of any potential compromise with Democrats. A firm opponent of abortion rights, he was essentially undone by disaffection from conservatives who want to push an anti-abortion struggle over Planned Parenthood financing to the point of closing the government, a step too far for him. We had heard rumors from several members that Boehner was mulling retirement and that, as a devout Catholic, he privately saw the pope’s congressional visit, which he had orchestrated, as a fitting denouement to his long political career. He was once one of the agitators — a member of the Newt Gingrich Gang of Seven who seized the Republican congressional agenda, then the reins of House power, in the 1990s.

More mainstream Republican candidates have either struggled to gain traction early on, or looked to adopt a tone more suitable to the anti-establishment wave gripping the primary contest. Asked about a potential successor, Boehner said that’s “up to the members” but then gave McCarthy a near-endorsement: “I think Kevin McCarthy would be an excellent speaker.” But it is far from a done deal, with Rep. Boehner’s announcement came one day after a high point of his congressional career, a historic speech by Pope Francis to Congress at the speaker’s request. That’s a year in which he and another short-timer, President Obama, could have operated under the Kris Kristofferson doctrine that “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” A year in which the pair could have pursued what both seemed to want early on as a legacy achievement: a large-scale deal that puts the country on a path to longterm fiscal stability. While loyal to Boehner, McCarthy has built personal relationships with conservative groups and tacked right recently to back the shutdown of the Export-Import bank.

The 65-year-old Boehner was never one to hold back his exasperation with recalcitrance in his own ranks as well as frustrations with what he saw as a slippery negotiating partner in President Barack Obama. Y’all come to town and somehow that changes.” Candidates like Cruz helped intensify pressure on Boehner in recent weeks over the battle that ultimately led the speaker to sacrifice himself: funding for the women’s health organization Planned Parenthood.

The building blocks of such a compromise are still available and are the same as always: closing some tax loopholes, raising some taxes and trimming some entitlement benefits. But Boehner’s announcement only puts off that fight and others, and promises a chaotic leadership struggle that may result in new leaders facing the same fundamental problem: a core group of 30 or so conservative lawmakers repulsed by compromise and commanding enough votes to stymie leadership plans, despite the GOP’s immense majority. “You’re going to have a new speaker who is going to have to wonder if he or she is going to be the next person losing their head,” said Rep.

In 2008, leading House Republicans in the minority, he lectured draggy members to get off their “dead asses.” He accused Obama of moving goalposts in budget brinkmanship and trying to “annihilate” the GOP. Cruz has led conservative calls to defund the agency as part of a must-pass bill to fund the government, after controversy erupted over heavily edited videos, filmed in secret by anti-abortion activists, that showed Planned Parenthood employees discussing the use of fetal tissue in medical research. But for any kind of a package like that, Boehner would have had to bypass many of his fellow Republicans and work closely with Democrats – not something he has braved too often during his tenure as speaker. Instead of rushing past and ignoring our peppered questions — the Boehner response familiar to lingering reporters — he slowed and moved closer, extending his hands. “Look at you!

Obama had his own frustrations with the speaker, although his most memorable line about Boehner was a tease about his tan. “He is a person of colour,” Obama cracked in 2009, suggesting a common racial heritage. “Although not a colour that appears in the natural world.” Both smiled over that. Conservatives had threatened a revolt and possible government shutdown over spending next week. “It’s become clear to me this prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable harm to the institution,” Boehner told a news conference. Boehner summed up the lawmakers he was overseeing this way in 2011 to the Wall Street Journal columnist and Ronald Reagan speech writer, Peggy Noonan: “We got some of the smartest people in the country who serve here, and some of the dumbest.

Of his resignation, he said, “Frankly, I am entirely comfortable doing it” — and he broke into a brief refrain of “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” to demonstrate his point. He then leaned in, put his hands on our shoulders, and nodded toward a small circular area on the first floor near a bust of Winston Churchill. “Come over here, let me show you something,” he said. We’ve got ‘em all.” Still, he loved the institution and brought a poker-faced demeanour to it, though with heavy eyes that welled up at the slightest poignant moment.

Some Republican presidential candidates are proposing huge tax cuts projected to inflate the debt, and some Democrats are proposing entitlement increases that would do the same. But the battle over Boehner’s successor could coincide with fights later this year over government spending and raising the federal debt limit, complicating those battles and adding more uncertainty for financial markets. But Boehner will leave behind a stack of other problems, including the new December funding deadline, a crucial highway bill, and the annual battle over the federal borrowing limit.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, a longtime foe of Boehner and his predecessor as speaker, said his pending departure would be “a distraction” during the spending debate and called his decision “seismic to the House.” On Thursday, Boehner, a Roman Catholic, realized a longtime goal of hosting Pope Francis for an address to Congress. He asked me to stand inches from him, in essence standing in for Pope Francis as he recreated the scene, perhaps hoping to savor the rush of it all again while the memory was fresh. And it’s not clear that the next speaker will have any easier time taming the unruly tea party lawmakers who forced Boehner out despite the largest GOP majority in 84 years, or making the deals with the White House and Senate Republicans that Boehner habitually cut to keep the gears of government running.

They haven’t done anything.” National party officials have remained confident that the anti-Washington sentiment will not be enough to propel the likes of Cruz, Trump or retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to the Republican nomination. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the party’s vice presidential nominee in 2012, has already ruled himself out of the race, calling the job “a great job for empty nesters.” For his part, Roskam attempted to become whip after then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary race last June, and was replaced in leadership by McCarthy – then the majority whip. Second oldest in a Catholic family of 12 in the northern Cincinnati suburb of Reading, Boehner swept floors in his father’s bar, played high-school football and worked his way through university.

But their impact on the dialogue has been both palpable and potentially damaging to the party’s general election chances, as candidates risk alienating minorities, women and young voters on issues like immigration and women’s health. He joined the Vietnam War-era Navy, lasted only weeks because of back problems, returned to college and climbed the ranks of a plastics and packaging company to the top. And aides suggested on Friday that the presidential race helped to elevate the Planned Parenthood fight in a way that distinguished it from previous showdowns in which Republican leadership ultimately prevailed, despite revolts from conservative hardliners that pushed them to the edge. There he soon became a lieutenant of the rabble-rousing Gingrich, who as mid-1990s speaker steered him to No. 4 in House leadership, with a plush office and a taste of power and the high life for a man who loves his Merlot wine and golfing.

House majority leader Kevin McCarthy, another moderate voice within the party, is a strong favorite to succeed Boehner – although conservatives said Friday they will look to challenge him with a candidate of their own. “The rank-and-file John Boehner from his pre-leadership days – he’d be the guy his current opponents would want to be speaker,” Cooper said. “He was 100% pro-life, 100% pro-NRA, a fiscal and budget hawk. Senator John McCain of Arizona, also a Republican, told reporters. “Sometimes we fail to appreciate that these are human beings with human emotions and lives to lead.” An NBC News/Wall Street Journal opinion poll on Friday found 72 percent of Republican primary voters were dissatisfied with Boehner and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. But conservatives complain that the GOP takeover of the Senate this year has not yielded results, and now a House run by less-proven leaders may test McConnell’s promise once more. “Mitch McConnell is infinitely worse as a leader than Boehner. Despite their clashes, Boehner frequently had bowed to the House’s conservative wing, standing by as conservatives forced a government shutdown in 2013 and abandoning comprehensive immigration reform in 2013 and 2014. At a meeting of the Values Voters Summit in Washington where religious conservatives were gathered to hear from GOP presidential candidates, attendees and some candidates alike erupted in extended applause and cheers at the news Boehner was stepping aside. “You want to know how much each of you terrify Washington?” Texas Sen.

The only slim hope for progress in 2016 on a grand bargain, maybe even an immigration reform package as well, was in a House headed by a lame-duck Boehner. The speaker clearly was overjoyed by the presence of the pope and what he called the “awesome sight” of Francis addressing Congress at his invitation. Members who can get members behind them can build momentum, and a snowball effect allows them to wrap things up.” “[Boehner’s backing] will help him with the establishment but not with the conservative House Freedom Caucus. My only request is, ‘Can you come more often?'” Several conservatives made clear they would now be gunning for McConnell, and presidential candidate Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, called on the Senate leader to resign. The pope put his arm around Boehner’s left arm, the speaker said, and asked him to “please pray for me.” It should not be a shock, then, that the pope’s words during his Washington visit were what inspired Boehner to go through with a long-gestating plan to quit.

Ex-Im offers financing to foreign buyers of U.S. goods. “Now is the time for our (House Republican) conference to focus on healing and unifying to face the challenges ahead and always do what is best for the American people,” he said in a statement. Conservatives want to use the budget measure to defund Planned Parenthood, and Boehner previously had to worry about an internal party revolt if he tried to strike a deal with Democrats to pass a “clean” budget bill. But what about the immeasurable good Boehner might have done for the country if he had stuck around a bit longer and worked with Obama? “Hopefully he feels like getting as much stuff done as he possibly can,” a surprised president told the media. On Friday aides circulated a list of accomplishments including banning earmarks, enacting money-saving reforms to Medicare this year, and leading education reforms. In addition to its own editorials, USA TODAY publishes diverse opinions from outside writers, including our Board of Contributors.To read more columns like this, go to the Opinion front page.

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