House Speaker John Boehner will resign Oct. 30

09/25/2015 10:44 AM

UPDATED WITH KENTUCKY REACTIONS: House Speaker John Boehner will retire from Congress at the end of October ending five-years in his role as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

An aide to Boehner confirmed that the Ohio Congressman had planned on leaving Congress in 2014, but stayed in his roll after the surprise defeat of Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia.

“Boehner believes that the first job of any Speaker is to protect this institution and, as we saw yesterday with the Holy Father, it is the one thing that unites and inspires us all,” An aide said. “The Speaker believes putting members through prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution.”

Speaker Boehner issued a statement just before noon on Friday, saying his “mission every day is to fight for a smaller, less costly, and more accountable government.”

“Over the last five years, our majority has advanced conservative reforms that will help our children and their children,” Boehner said. “I am proud of what we have accomplished.

“The first job of any Speaker is to protect this institution that we all love,” Boehner continued. “It was my plan to only 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. To that end, I will resign the Speakership and my seat in Congress on October 30.

“Today, my heart is full with gratitude for my family, my colleagues, and the people of Ohio’s Eighth District. God bless this great country that has given me – the son of a bar owner from Cincinnati – the chance to serve.”

Speaker Boehner has endured a tense relationship with Kentucky U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Vanceburg, who has led on efforts to unseat Boehner from leadership.

In 2013, Massie took part in what amounted to a mini-coup against Boehner. The leadership switch didn’t happen as the more conservative members ranks broke when it came time to vote. In total, 12 members including Massie cast votes against Boehner.

In January of this year, Massie again vowed to vote against Boehner.

On Friday, Massie spoke with Pure Politics by phone saying that “it was obvious for several weeks,” that Boehner was going to leave.

“It may have been members close to him…that persuaded him to leave because they didn’t want to have to take that vote again on the floor of the House,” Massie said.

Massie is not endorsing anyone for the post yet, though U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster is running on a reform platform, but he said that “it would be very dangerous for Congressmen to vote for (current Majority Leader) Kevin McCarthy to basically just move him up one position.”

With Boehner making his exit, Massie warned that there is work to do to elect the a new speaker of the House.

“Nobody is spiking the ball, because this is a necessary but not sufficient condition for changing this institution. What we need to make sure of is that we elect somebody to this position that understands how representative Democracy is supposed to work,” Massie said.

On the floor of the U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, saying Boehner leaves a “legacy few can match.”

“Speaker Boehner was able to transform a broken and dispirited Republican minority into the largest Republican majority since the 1920s,” McConnell said.

“I know yesterday was an incredibly important event for the Speaker,” McConnell continued. “It was his aim to bring the same spirit of grace that has always guided his life, to others. You only had to look out onto the Capitol lawn to see what he achieved. And that he chose this moment to make this decision, means he will be leaving us in a similar spirit.”

Kentucky’s Sixth Dist. U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, a Republican from Lexington, said Boehner “has been a loyal friend to me and my family,” in a statement sent to Pure Politics.

“I am grateful for his leadership, his honesty, his servant’s heart, and his patriotic willingness to place the interests of the nation, the Congress and the House Republican Conference over his own,” Barr said. “Today, he has shown the kind of humility, class and selflessness that the Pope called all of us to pursue yesterday. I wish Speaker Boehner Godspeed and best wishes as he now gets to enjoy his new grandson in a well-earned retirement.”

First Dist. U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Hopkinsville, thanked Boehner for his service in a statement sent to media on Friday afternoon.

“I want to thank John Boehner for his twenty-four years of service to our great country,” Whitfield said. “There is no doubt in my mind that John made this decision with the best interest of our country, constituents, and conference in mind. We must now move forward and unite our entire conference so that we can govern in the best interest of the American people.”

Second Dist. U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, told Pure Politics he appreciates “Speaker Boehner’s service to the House of Representatives and the Republican Party.”

“I wish him the best as he prepares for retirement at the end of October,” Guthrie said. “ I am confident that the new House Republican leadership team will guide our Conference to tackle the pressing issues before our country.”

Third Dist. U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville, the state’s lone Democratic federal representative said all of Congress was shocked by Boehner’s resignation, and he fears an emboldened tea party could emerge.

With McCarthy a likely successor, Yarmuth said tea party Republicans could be attempting to trade their votes for commitments on their legislation.

“Things are probably going to get worse,” Yarmuth said.

However, Yarmuth does expect that Boehner’s decision “guarantees” that there will not be a government shutdown, and that there will be a clean spending bill that Democrats will back.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@twcnews.com.

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