(From Newsmax) House Speaker John Boehner will resign from Congress at the end of October, lawmakers said, following repeated clashes with conservative members of his Republican conference.
His move throws Congress into chaos as it tries to avert a government shutdown next week.
Boehner is citing the defeat last year of former No. 2 Republican Eric Cantor and his meeting this week with Pope Francis as among reasons, according to a Republican aide. He announced his decision to rank and file Republicans Friday morning.
Boehner’s now free to ignore the demands of rank-and-file Republicans who say they’re willing to shut down the government rather than continue paying Planned Parenthood for its non-abortion health services. He will be able to schedule a quick vote on the funding bill that the Senate plans to vote on next week. Enough Democrats would vote for that to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1.
The shutdown risk, then, would shift to December, when the short-term funding would expire.
Possible choices to succeed Boehner include Kevin McCarthy of California, the current No. 2 to Boehner, and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. Longshot choices may include Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, who ranks fourth in the Republican leadership, and Peter Roskam of Illinois, who lost the election for Republican whip, the third-ranking position.
Outliers could be any of a number of conservatives, led by Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas. Others include Pete Sessions of Texas and Dan Webster of Florida, who challenged Boehner in January and won 12 votes.
Representative Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican, criticized Boehner’s leadership, accusing him of forcing members to vote his way. “The American people can see what is happening up here,” said Massie, who was part of a group of Republicans who said in January they would oppose Boehner’s election as speaker. “It is a farce.”
Conversely, Representative Peter King of New York said, “I’m very disappointed. It’s a victory for the crazies. I understand why he did it, but I don’t agree.” He said McCarthy is the most likely successor.
Current government funding runs out Sept. 30, and a number of conservative Republicans have said they were willing to shut down the government to block funding for Planned Parenthood, the women’s reproductive care system.
“We have a plan to keep the government open and we will execute it next week,” said Republican Greg Walden of Oregon. Republicans now plan to send President Barack Obama a measure to finance the government without defunding Planned Parenthood, he said.
Boehner believes, the aide said, that any speaker’s first job is to protect the institution. The speaker believes putting members through prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution, the aide said.
Boehner’s sudden and surprising resignation threatens to further divide his caucus, as Boehner’s loyalists lashed out at those in the caucus who had threatened to try to topple Boehner.
“The honor of John Boehner today is in sharp contrast to the idiocy of those in the conference who seek to divide us,” said Representative David Jolly, a Florida Republican.
Boehner, 65, an Ohio Republican who was elected to Congress in 1990, has been speaker since 2011.
He has faced pressure from conservatives in his caucus on a spending plan for fiscal 2016. Some Republicans want funding cut off for Planned Parenthood, the women’s reproductive health service, and are willing to risk a government shutdown over the matter. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
“He does not want to become the issue,” said Representative John Mica, a Florida Republican, after the meeting of House Republicans.
Boehner’s resignation also comes just a day after day after Pope Francis fulfilled the Roman Catholic Speaker’s longtime dream of having a pontiff address Congress. Boehner had a private audience with the Pope before his Washington address.