Boehner Leaving House Divided Bombshell Roils the GOP Leaving: Tea Partyers to Go after McConnell in Senate?

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), September 26, 2015 | Go to article overview

Boehner Leaving House Divided Bombshell Roils the GOP Leaving: Tea Partyers to Go after McConnell in Senate?


Byline: Erica Werner Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Plunging Congress into deeper turmoil, House Speaker John Boehner abruptly announced his resignation Friday, shutting down a Tea Party drive to depose the nation's highest-ranking Republican but opening up fresh troubles for the GOP.

The 13-term Ohio lawmaker, second in line to the presidency, shocked his rank-and-file when he told them of his plans in an emotional closed-door meeting. He said he would step down from the speaker's job he's held for nearly five years, and from Congress, at the end of October.

One important result: A government shutdown threatened for next week is all but sure to be averted -- but only for now. A new December deadline and a potentially market-rattling fight over the government's borrowing limit still lie ahead.

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.

It also came before what would have been a new low: a potential floor vote to oust him as speaker, pushed by Republican tea partyers convinced he was capitulating in a

struggle over Planned Parenthood funding that threatened a government shutdown next Thursday. Such a formal challenge against a speaker has not been used in the House for over 100 years.

On Friday, an upbeat Boehner declared that he'd decided to spare the House, and himself, the chaos such a vote would bring.

"It's become clear to me that this prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable harm to the institution," he said.

"I don't want my members to have to go through this. I certainly don't want the institution to go through this," he said. 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.

Even as he announced his plans to leave, Boehner told lawmakers they could expect to vote next week on legislation to fund the government through Dec. 11 with Planned Parenthood funding intact, a bill likely to pass with Democratic help, notwithstanding conservative complaints.

So no shutdown for now. 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.

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.

Although a disorderly leadership race is certain for some of the top jobs, the likeliest contender to replace Boehner is his current No. 2, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, whom Boehner endorsed on Friday, saying he "would make an excellent speaker."

After Boehner's announcement, President Barack Obama praised him as "a good man" and a patriot.

"Maybe most importantly, he's somebody who understands that in government and governance, you don't get 100 percent of what you want," the president said. "We can have significant differences on issues, but that doesn't mean you shut down the government. …

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