NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, September 25th, 2015

John Boehner to resign as Speaker and as U.S. Representative at the end of October

Top Repub­li­can John Boehn­er shocked Capi­tol Hill and Amer­i­ca’s polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment this morn­ing by announc­ing that he plans to resign the speak­er­ship and his posi­tion in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives as of Octo­ber 30th, 2015.

“The first job of any Speak­er is to pro­tect this insti­tu­tion that we all love,” said Boehn­er in an offi­cial state­ment released by his office. “It was my plan to only serve as Speak­er until the end of last year, but I stayed on to pro­vide con­ti­nu­ity to the Repub­li­can Con­fer­ence and the House.  It is my view, how­ev­er, that pro­longed lead­er­ship tur­moil would do irrepara­ble dam­age to the insti­tu­tion.”

“To that end, I will resign the Speak­er­ship and my seat in Con­gress on Octo­ber 30.”

“Today, my heart is full with grat­i­tude for my fam­i­ly, my col­leagues, and the peo­ple of Ohio’s Eighth Dis­trict.  God bless this great coun­try that has giv­en me — the son of a bar own­er from Cincin­nati — the chance to serve.”

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma has not yet react­ed to Boehn­er’s deci­sion to quit. But Demo­c­ra­t­ic Lead­ers Nan­cy Pelosi and Har­ry Reid (who is him­self retir­ing) have.

“By oust­ing a good man like Speak­er Boehn­er — some­one who under­stood the art of com­pro­mise — the par­ty of Eisen­how­er and Rea­gan is no more,” tweet­ed Reid, adding: “I was­n’t always hap­py with what Speak­er Boehn­er told me, but he nev­er, ever mis­led me. He nev­er told me some­thing that was­n’t true.”

Many Democ­rats would take issue with the char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Boehn­er as “a good man”, but, all things being rel­a­tive, Boehn­er cer­tain­ly seems well-ground­ed and rea­son­able com­pared to some of the rank-and-file in his cau­cus. They have long want­ed Boehn­er gone. Now, they are get­ting their wish.

How­ev­er, a day may come when they regret push­ing him out.

Nan­cy Pelosi was more blunt, telling reporters, that the “res­ig­na­tion of the Speak­er is a stark indi­ca­tion of the dis­ar­ray of the House Repub­li­cans.”

Pelosi knows what it’s like to be in the hot seat. She became the first woman speak­er in his­to­ry in ear­ly 2007, and was mem­o­rably hand­ed the gav­el by John Boehn­er in Jan­u­ary 2007. She had to give it back to Boehn­er four years lat­er.

But despite los­ing the major­i­ty in the 2010 midterms, Pelosi stayed on as Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leader, and ignored calls for her to step down. She resumed the role of House Minor­i­ty Leader, which she held dur­ing most of the Bush years, and has since won plau­dits for hold­ing her cau­cus togeth­er. When she declared ear­li­er this year that House Democ­rats would sus­tain Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s veto to uphold the Joint Com­pre­hen­sive Plan of Action with Iran, reporters and polit­i­cal observers had no rea­son to doubt that she could not deliv­er on her guar­an­tee.

Nan­cy Pelosi has sur­vived some pret­ty tough loss­es. But she’s still around and still an effec­tive leg­is­la­tor, despite not being speak­er. John Boehn­er, on the oth­er hand, could­n’t sur­vive win­ning. His cau­cus got big­ger in last year’s midterms, but that only cre­at­ed fresh prob­lems for him. Appar­ent­ly, he had intend­ed to hand things over to Eric Can­tor before the cur­rent Con­gress got going, but when Can­tor was unex­pect­ed­ly defeat­ed in the Repub­li­can pri­ma­ry, those plans changed.

Boehn­er may wish for peo­ple to think he is leav­ing of his own accord and on his own terms, but the real­i­ty is, he’s being forced out. His own par­ty is dump­ing him because he isn’t extreme and mil­i­tant enough. That’s down­right scary.

Ari­zona Sen­a­tor John McCain, one of the GOP’s elder states­men, gets it. Asked to react to Boehn­er’s res­ig­na­tion and the con­se­quences for the House Repub­li­can cau­cus, he told the New York Times: “It means that it’s in dis­ar­ray,.. Basi­cal­ly, he has been unseat­ed. And that’s not good for the Repub­li­can Par­ty.”

Boehn­er sup­port­er Char­lie Dent of Penn­syl­va­nia was even more explic­it than that:

The dynam­ics are this: There are any­where from two to four dozen mem­bers who don’t have an affir­ma­tive sense of gov­er­nance. They can’t get to yes. They just can’t get to yes, and so they under­mine the abil­i­ty of the speak­er to lead. And not only do they under­mine the abil­i­ty of the speak­er to lead, but they under­mine the entire Repub­li­can con­fer­ence and also help to weak­en the insti­tu­tion of Con­gress itself. That’s the real­i­ty. Now, if we have a new speak­er, is there going to be an epiphany? They won’t be hap­py if it’s Paul Ryan or Kevin McCarthy, who will have to make accom­mo­da­tions with a Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­dent and the Sen­ate con­sti­tut­ed the way it is.

Dent pre­dict­ed that “this will not be eas­i­er for the next guy”.

Boehn­er had been due to give a press con­fer­ence to explain his deci­sion to resign, but that was scrapped, and his office set­tled for a state­ment instead.

Boehn­er, unshack­led from need­ing to wor­ry about the secu­ri­ty of his posi­tion, is report­ed­ly going to throw his weight behind a clean con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion to keep the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment open in the short-term. After he leaves, of course, the fed­er­al bud­get isn’t some­thing he’ll have to wor­ry about any­more.

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