On Friday, the day after the Pope’s speech to Congress, an aide to Republican House Speaker John Boehner said that Boehner will step down from his post and leave Congress effective October 30th.
The Ohio Republican’s decision was sure to touch off a divisive leadership fight among House Republicans even as lawmakers hunt for a way to avoid a looming government shutdown. “There was no obvious successor,” writes Yahoo News.
“The Speaker believes putting members through prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution,” the aide said.
Speaker of the House is considered America’s “number three elected official,” writes Yahoo.
The speaker, a lifelong Catholic, was visibly emotional throughout the visit, including the pontiff’s address to a joint meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives, a first.
“Speaker 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,” the aide said.
“The Speaker’s plan was to serve only through the end of last year,” the aide said. But former Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s shock re-election loss “changed that calculation.”
Almost from the start of his speakership in early 2011, Boehner faced an insurgency from Tea Party Republicans looking forward to shutting the government down.
That prospect loomed large over his announcement because currently, a group conservatives are demanding that 2016 spending legislation strip Planned Parenthood of funding. That would trigger a showdown with Democrats and the White House that could lock up the process, shutting down the government, according to Yahoo.