Break open the keg… Speaker Boehner dramatically announced his resignation from Congress today – the day after weeping as the Pope addressed a joint session of the House. Maybe the Pope’s visit wasn’t so irritating after all.
The Republican leader, 65, revealed his decision at a conference of party representatives this morning.
He will leave Congress at the end of next month, Congressman Patrick Svitek, who was at the meeting, revealed.
Boehner, a devout Catholic, had been moved to tears by the presence of the leader of the religion, who he had personally invited to the unprecedented joint address yesterday.
Entrenched in a fight with conservative lawmakers in his chamber who were plotting to have him tossed out as Speaker, today Boehner announced that he was quitting Congress altogether.
The aide said Boehner didn’t intend to serve another term in Congress – but then his No. 2, Majority Leader Eric Canter, unexpectedly lost his primary last summer, throwing the line of succession into chaos.
‘The Speaker believes putting members through prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution,’ the aide said, and so he’s decided it’s time to go.
Conservative activists, gathered across town for the annual Values Voters Summit, hosted by the Family Research Council, celebrated Boehner’s fall from grace.
They cheered as Republican presidential candidate and Florida Senator Marco Rubio told them, ‘Just a few minutes ago, Speaker John Boehner announced he’s retiring from Congress.’
Boehner had been warring with the right wing of his party, led into battle by Congressman Mark Meadows of North Carolina and a group of aligned lawmakers calling themselves the House Freedom Caucus.
Members of the group wanted GOP leadership to back a plan to defund Planned Parenthood that was almost certain to result in a government shutdown.
Congress must approve a set of spending bills by September 30, or all non-essential government personnel will be set home and government agencies will be shuttered until the crisis resolves itself.
House and Senate leadership opposed to the idea, and Boehner rejected his critics’ charges that he was not challenging the president because he’s not as conservative as they are.
‘When I voted regularly, I had the eighth most conservative voting record in Congress,’ he told Politico last weekend, over the phone. ‘And the idea that I’m the establishment, that I’m some RINO, is just laughable. It really is.’