A day after Pope Francis addressed a joint meeting of Congress, Speaker John Boehner announced that he will resign the Speakership and his Congressional seat in October. The move came as a surprise to political insiders and the Speaker said that he made the decision earlier that morning.
Speaker Boehner told his Republican conference colleagues in a private meeting and called a press conference for 1 PM. Word began to leak that he was announcing his resignation. In an emotional press conference, he did just that.
“I decided today is the day I’m going to do this, simple as that,” he said.
Boehner’s position as Speaker was increasingly being called into question as conservatives within his party floated plans to remove him, known as vacating the chair in the House. The party was bracing for a showdown between the establishment and Tea Party wings as the House majority tries to find a way to fund the government. The establishment has been looking to pass a clean continuing resolution, meaning to fund the government without changes, while the Tea Party has insisted that Planned Parenthood be defunded.
Speaker Boehner’s decision will cause an election to replace him as Speaker. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is the strong favorite, although several Republicans are expected to run.
Speaker Boehner said, confirming previous reports, that he had initially planned to only serve two terms as Speaker before leaving office. However, then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s loss in a primary caused him to stay on longer to prevent any more instability.