House Speaker John Boehner (shown front) — second in the line of succession to the presidency — announced through an aide Friday morning that, effective the end of October, he would resign his position as speaker of the House and vacate his seat in Congress. Said the aide:
The speaker believes [that] putting members through prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution.
He is proud of what this majority has accomplished, and his speakership, but for the good of the Republican Conference and the institution, he will resign the speakership and his seat in Congress, effective October 30.
When Senator Marco Rubio (R–Fla.) told attendees at the Values Voter Summit of Boehner’s decision, the crowd erupted with cheers and claps.
Boehner had originally planned to leave the post in 2014, but the surprise upset of Eric Cantor, then serving as the House Majority Leader, in the primary in June caused him to “recalculate” that decision.
Long challenged and chastised for taking positions that weren’t supported by conservatives in the House, Boehner initially became speaker in 2011 with a unanimous vote, but he was only narrowly reelected in 2013, as disenchantment with his willingness to compromise with Democrats and the White House became more and more obvious.
His votes for the Trade Promotion Authority (TPP) and the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) were just two of many sour notes on his voting record that resulted in his Freedom Index rating of just 52 out of 100. Despite his oath to support and defend the Constitution, he voted to give rule-making authority — given to the House by the Constitution “to regulate commerce with foreign nations” — to the White House and then added insult to the injury by voting to limit the ability of Congress to amend any agreements the president might conjure as a result. These are part and parcel of attempts to tie the United States into global agreements that would abrogate the country’s sovereignty, supersede its independence, and give authority to regional unelected officials on the way to a global government. In his analysis of the matter, The New American magazine’s senior editor, William Jasper, concluded, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership constitute an all-out assault on, and an existential threat to, America’s sovereignty and independence.”
Not only did Boehner ignore his constitutional responsibilities, but attempted to sanction those House members who took those responsibilities seriously and voted against the bills. In early June Boehner and Steve Scalise (R-La.), the House majority whip, removed Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), and Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) from the whip team. They then stripped Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) of his chairmanship of the House Oversight Government Operations subcommittee.
They moved on to try to force Ken Buck (R-Colo.) to resign as freshman class president, enlisting two of Boehner’s cronies in the process. The effort failed when the freshmen representatives voted to keep him in place.
Boehner tried to apply a financial tourniquet to Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) for voting against Boehner. Said Labrador at the time:
Because voting against the rule is almost like a capital crime here, we know what’s going to happen to us.
We know that the leadership is going to come against us, we know that they’re already telling our donors not to give money to us, which, by the way, I think is unethical.
We know exactly what they are doing. That’s not leadership. That’s tyranny.
Pressure to reinstate Meadows was so strong that Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) was forced to restore Meadows to his previous position, perhaps signaling the end of Boehner’s days of bullying and retribution. It was Meadows who offered a motion to vacate the chair of the speaker, an “extraordinary measure of no confidence in the Speaker of the House that hadn’t been used in a century,” according to the Daily Signal.
In describing Boehner’s close ties to the Republican establishments, Pastor Chuck Baldwin wrote:
Pick the topic: amnesty for illegals, ObamaCare, TPP, deficit spending, government spying, funding for Planned Parenthood, the “Cromnibus” bill, ad infinitum. Boehner and [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell have sold out the people who voted them into a congressional majority — and the country itself.
Boehner didn’t help himself any when, in a moment of unguarded candor, he told Politico reporters in an interview last week that “garbage men get used to the smell of bad garbage,” a phrase which many interpreted to mean the conservatives in the House who were trying to hold Boehner accountable for his anti-freedom and unconstitutional actions.
As Michael Needham, the CEO of Heritage Action, exclaimed, it was long past time for a change:
Too often, Speaker Boehner has stood in the way. Today’s announcement is a sign that the voice of the American people is breaking through in Washington.
Confirmation that it was time for Boehner to move on came in the form of praise for Boehner’s tenure from an unexpected source: hard-left Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.):
Speaker John Boehner is a decent, principled conservative man who tried to do the right thing under almost impossible circumstances. He will be missed by Republicans and Democrats alike.
Let us hope the Republican majority, which Speaker Boehner played a large role in creating, learns the right lesson from his resignation: to work with Democrats in a constructive way, rather than letting a handful of extreme right-wingers dictate his party’s policy.
At this writing it is unclear who might step in to replace Boehner, with initial indications pointing to the man who took Eric Cantor’s seat: Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), presently serving as the House majority leader. With his voting record (Freedom Index of just 63), McCarthy will have to go some distance to placate those instrumental in helping Boehner with his decision to resign his post as speaker and his seat at the end of October.
A graduate of an Ivy League school and a former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at www.LightFromTheRight.com, primarily on economics and politics.