In an unexpected move, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced on Friday that he would resign his post and leave Congress at the end of October. His resignation came at a time when conservative members of the lower chamber were waging an internal battle to strip funding for Planned Parenthood, a women’s healthcare provider that performs abortions, which could’ve resulted in a government shutdown.
Boehner has long been a target of conservatives in the Republican Party who feel that he is disconnected from or doesn’t care about the concerns of the base. In January, at the start of the new Congress, 25 Republicans cast protest votes against Boehner, nearly throwing the election of the Speaker into a second round of voting.
“My mission every day is to fight for a smaller, less costly, and more accountable government. Over the last five years, our majority has advanced conservative reforms that will help our children and their children. I am proud of what we have accomplished,” Boehner said on Friday. “The first job of any Speaker is to protect this institution that we all love. 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,” he added.
Jockeying for position in the House Republican Conference began before Boehner resigned. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., had introduced a resolution to vacate the Office of the Speaker before the August recess. Although the resolution wasn’t expected to get even a hearing, a motion from the floor could’ve been raised at any time and a vote would’ve been required. It was unclear if Boehner would’ve survived without Democratic support.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was thought to be Boehner’s heir apparent before the resignation, and not much has changed. Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., the former Speaker of the Florida House, has announced that he’ll run as a conservative alternative, but no one believes he’ll mount a serious challenge.
The real race will be to replace McCarthy as Majority Leader. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., announced his bid for the top partisan post, as has House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga. Both are typically viewed as more conservative members of the House Republican Conference, but Price is likely to attract the most support from that wing of the party.
Still, don’t expect much to change with the new leadership team. Unless there is a serious about face on spending, civil liberties, and other big government policies that contradict the Republican Party’s supposedly limited government platform, the new House leadership will be the same as the old: Stale and weak.