Yes, you read that title correctly – John Boehner will be resigning at the end of October. For me, it was a shock, whereas for others, not so much. There have been rumors as of late about a possible overthrow by the Freedom Caucus, run by very powerful, extreme right leaning individuals. That being said, Boehner’s announcement really shouldn’t by any surprise for a number of reasons, nor should this be seen as a technical cop-out on the part of Boehner. Let me explain briefly.
First of all, Boehner had planned to step down in 2014, and stayed on after Eric Cantor was defeated in his election. Second, Boehner has stated in the past that one of his big goals was to have a Pope speak before Congress, which was achieved. For Boehner, I imagine that would be the height of his tenure as the Speaker of the House. Third, the same wave that brought him into power has also been shown to be the most difficult brand of conservatism so far. Say what you will about Boehner, but his decision has little to do with his inability to reign in the tea party component of the Republican Party. A more accurate way of stating this is that by Boehner resigning, this allows him a chance to avert a Government shutdown – which is not what he wants, nor agrees with – much to the same as Mitch McConnell. Boehner has nothing to lose – he was Speaker, he brought a Pope before congress, and now he’ll be able to protect the institution from crumbling – because he has nothing to lose. Having announced his resignation, he’ll be able to rally the more centrist (or less conservative) Republicans, as well as the Democrats in the House to prevent a shutdown.
I’ve never been a huge fan of Boehner, and I would say that he was not that great as Speakers of the House go, but that’s also in context of the insipid atmosphere that has since enveloped Congress.
So what’s next? Well, probably McCarthy, as he’s the House Majority Leader. But, the race for the Speakership hasn’t started yet, so we really can’t say. I’ve been mulling over the possible candidates when I started hearing whispers of a possible overthrow. McCarthy isn’t that great of a leader either, in my eyes, but he can get votes. The only concern I would have with a weak Speaker is an inability to control the majority if that majority is unwilling to bend on certain issues – like the Tea Party. But then again, we’ve seen what 5 years of that looks like, and I would hope that McCarthy would have learned from the failures of Boehner.
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