Republican House Speaker John Boehner will resign from Congress and give up his seat in the House of Representatives at the end of October.
Boehner did not address the press after he broke the news to his Republican colleagues. However, in a statement issued later in the morning, the speaker explained his decision to step away from Capitol Hill.
“The first job of any Speaker is to protect this institution that we all love,” the statement read. “It was my plan to serve as Speaker until the end of last year, but I stayed on to provide continuity to the Republican Conference and the House. It is my view, however, that prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution.”
He concluded by saying he will resign from his seat in Congress on October 30, and thanked his House colleagues, his consitutents, and his family.
“God bless this great country that has given me – the son of a bar owner from Cincinnati – the chance to serve,” Boehner said.
An aid to the speaker told Fox News Boehner’s plan had been to serve through the end of last year, but former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary loss last year changed that decision.
The speaker’s comments stunned the party at a morning meeting.
At a Value Voters Summit following Boehner’s comments to the party, Republican Presidential Candidate Marco Rubio remarked about the speaker’s decision to a round of ovation and applause.
“I am not here to bash anyone, but the time has come to turn the page. The time has come to turn the page and allow a new generation of leadership in this country,” he said.
First elected to Congress in 1990, Boehner was reelected to represent the Eighth Congressional District of Ohio for the 13th time in November last year.
Speculation as to who might succeed Boehner as House speaker immediately began to swirl. Many eyes are focused on House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who represents California's 23rd District.
Paul Ryan, who ran alongside Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential campaign, and who currently serves as the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee told a gaggle of reporters, “I don’t want to be speaker.”
The Most Recent Fight: A Government Shutdown
Boehner has come under increased pressure amid the threat of a government shutdown, a deadline that looms large on next week’s horizon. If no agreement is reached, the federal government could shut its doors on October 1.
The shutdown fight centers on funding to Planned Parenthood, under fire since the early part of the summer for allegedly selling fetal tissue for a profit.
Greg Valliere, chief political strategist at the Potomac Research Group said Boehner’s decision to vacate the speakership role has actually improved the government-shutdown situation.
“Chances for a deal by Wednesday night, keeping the government open when the new fiscal year starts, have actually improved. Boehner, probably, will have to get votes from Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats, but what does he care? He’s resigning,” Valliere said.
There’s one caveat, though, and it comes when the current spending bill expires on December 11.
“The House may lurch to the right, setting up a potentially serious crisis when the temporary spending bill runs out,” he said. “There’s a real threat of a shutdown then. The key issues will probably be the debt ceiling and spending increases for domestic programs, which the conservatives will fiercely resist.”
House Republican leadership met with GOP rank and file not long after word spread about Boehner’s decision to resign. Leadership said they want the party to vote for a “clean” spending bill next week, though they might have to rely on a number of votes from the Democratic party.
A clean bill would leave intact federal funding to Planned Parenthood. It’s been noted some Republicans want to pass this bill to keep the government open past the October deadline so they can work on a separate bill to defund the organization later this year.