John Boehner Resigns: Another Establishment Republican Bites the Dust

By  | 

News broke this morning that Speaker of the House John Boehner will be resigning from Congress at the end of October. While some are rejoicing that the congressman, perhaps best known for his slightly orange visage and very active tear ducts, is stepping down, it’s also indicative of the identity crisis that is threatening to consume the Republican Party.

Boehner has long clashed with the more conservative, tea party side of his party. Most recently, members of the Freedom Caucus, some of Boehner’s biggest antagonists, threatened to oust him from the leadership if he didn’t make defunding Planned Parenthood a priority in the ongoing budget fight. This isn’t the first time they’ve tried–this has been a long-waged battle. But if they were successful this time around, Boehner was most likely going to have to rely on liberal support to keep his seat, which would be both an unpredictable and embarrassing situation.

But, by stepping down, Boehner also gains some freedom. No longer held hostage by the fact that he may lose a seat he no longer wants, Boehner now has the ability to advocate for a bill that will avoid a government shutdown. A clean spending bill, without the Planned Parenthood provisions, seems likely to pass. A Boehner aide stated about his decision:

The Speaker believes 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.

Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House before Boehner took the stage for a press conference around 10:45 this morning, pointing out that Boehner’s resignation is indicative of the struggles that the Republican Party is facing right now.

No one is entirely sure who is going to take over Boehner’s seat. Right now, the most likely candidate seems to be Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the highest ranking Republican in Congress after Boehner. But McCarthy falls more in line with Republican establishment than the more conservative members trying to oust Boehner. Whether or not there will be a challenge from the right will be interesting to watch–this battle could get incredibly divisive. Given the infighting currently taking place in the Republican Party over who will be the 2016 nominee, it will be interesting to see if the battle for the House leadership gets just as messy.

Anneliese Mahoney
Anneliese Mahoney is Managing Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at



Send this to friend