Politics isn’t for sissies. The rough and tumble takes its toll. Harry Truman once said if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.
A day after basking in the glow of Pope Francis’ Washington visit and address to a joint congressional session he arranged, Speaker John Boehner said he’s leaving Congress, effective October 30. Did he resign, or was he pushed? It appears a palace coup ousted him.
A Boehner aide’s twitter statement said “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 Speaker’s plan was to serve only through the end of last year. Leader Cantor’s loss in his primary change that calculation. 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.”
The New York Times said he informed “fellow Republicans on Friday morning…throwing Congress into chaos as it tries to avert (an end of month) government shutdown.”
The Washington Post reported internecine warfare forced him out. “(M)ore than 30 Republicans” threatened a no-confidence vote, meaning he’d need Democrat support to remain speaker. This type floor challenge hasn’t happened in over 100 years.
The Wall Street Journal said “increasing pressure from conservatives” forced him out. Republican hardliner Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R. KS) accused him of letting Obama “run circles around this Congress” throughout his tenure as speaker. “We need a…conservative leader,” he said.
The neocon Heritage Foundation’s lobbying arm Heritage Action issued a statement, saying “Americans deserve a Congress that fights for opportunity for all and favoritism to none. Too often, Speaker Boehner has stood in the way.”
Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R. CA) is most likely to succeed him. Reports suggest he may face a challenger. Boehner faced opponents willing to shut down government next week unless funding for Planned Parenthood (PP) was stripped from the federal budget - in response to videos showing its officials discussing fees for fetal tissues for medical research.
Most Republicans expect spending legislation to pass keeping government operating - with PP funding maintained.
In July, Politico reported Republican infighting “at full throttle.” Disagreement is striking on many issues - including “a long-term highway bill,” federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, renewing the Export-Import Bank’s charter, a possible government shutdown and debate on raising the debt limit early next year.
“House GOP leaders face a collection of (neo)conservatives once again feeling emboldened by their ability to stifle the leadership’s agenda without retribution” said Politico.
Whether a government shutdown at month’s end can be avoided remains to be seen. Much is up for grabs with a lame duck speaker.
Party hardliners wanted him out, one of their own replacing him. It’s hard imagining how much more hawkish, pro-business and anti-populist things can get in Washington than already - dominated by monied interests and war-profiteers running things.
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|Allen L. Jasson|
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