John Boehner resigns


Speaker John Boehner announced to a group of fellow Republican Congressmen on September 25 that he was planning on resigning from Congress. He has been the Speaker of the House for five years, ever since his 61st  birthday in 2010, and held the position two years ago during the government shut down when the Republicans and Democrats in Congress argued over where to spend federal money for the upcoming fiscal year.

The argument  that led to the shutdown in 2013 was over whether or not the government should fund the Affordable Care Act (or “ObamaCare”). The government closure lasted for 16 days. During that time government workers were sent home and government-run facilities, including national parks and monuments, were temporarily closed. At the end of this span of arguing, Boehner told his fellow Republicans to “hold their heads high, go home, get some rest and think about how they could work better as a team” right before going to vote on the Senate proposal that determined the funding of the government.

Contrary to some of the Republican congressmen’s original wishes, however, Boehner was able to agree to the Senate bill that wanted to allot federal money to continue the Affordable Care Act. Representative Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho, said he was “really proud” of how Mr. Boehner had handled the situation. “I’m more upset with my Republican conference, to be honest with you,” he said.

It was an unexpected announcement for some Republicans when they were told that Boehner was considering resigning: Kevin McCarthy, the House Majority Leader, was so shocked “I had to tell him five times, because he didn’t believe me,”  Boehner said. “John has been a leader, mentor, and most of all friend throughout, and I learned not only from his experience but also from his unshakeable faith and principles,” McCarthy said. “It takes profound humility to step down from a position of power, and John’s depth of character is unmatched.”

One event that seemed to have heavily impacted the Speaker was the visit from Pope Francis last week. “I woke up [Friday] morning, the day after the pope’s historic address to Congress, said my prayers like I do every morning and decided today’s the day to do this” said Boehner. As a devout Catholic, Boehner insists that there was no greater honor than getting to meet the Pope. Boehner had been working for 20 years to arrange for the Pope’s visit.   “John Boehner dedicated his life to public service. Bringing the Holy Father to Congress was a fitting cap to a great career,” said Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida.

Washington Post writer Robert Costa describes an interaction with Boehner in which he took Costa and another journalist on the Capitol:  “I asked if he had anything left to accomplish as speaker — whether maybe the pope’s visit was it for him. He narrowed his eyes and issued a gruff but coy, No.”