House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican lawmaker from Ohio who has served in Congress for more than 20 years, will resign his seat at the end of October, according to the New York Times.
Boehner’s decision to give up his House seat comes amid a contentious political fight over whether Congress will agree to pass a spending bill that includes a provision to defund Planned Parenthood. According to the New York Times, Boehner has been under “extreme pressure from the right wing of his conference” to defund Planned Parenthood in the current budget negotiations, which is a nonstarter for both Senate Democrats and President Obama. The Speaker, meanwhile, has indicated that he would rather compromise on Planned Parenthood funding to avoid a government shutdown before October 1.
There’s been speculation for months that far-right Republicans are very unhappy with the way that Boehner is doing his job. Some conservative members of the House have been explicit about the fact that they want to find a way to oust him.
Boehner presumably wants to avoid an intraparty dispute over his role as a GOP leader. According to a statement released by one of Boehner’s aides, “the Speaker believes putting members through prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution.”
Indeed, all signs pointed to the potential for a contentious fight. A group of more than 30 Republicans recently started threatening to force a “no-confidence vote” in his speaker’s position, a procedural move that would have required enough Democrats to vote for Boehner to keep him in charge. “You know there’s some drops of blood in the water, because all the sharks are starting to circle,” one right-wing lawmaker who supports getting rid of Boehner told the Hill earlier this week. Instead, the Ohio representative is walking away.
The last-minute announcement, just days before Congress will hit the deadline to approve a spending bill to avert a government shutdown, makes it more likely that lawmakers will struggle to come to consensus to keep the government operating. It’s possible that Boehner will be able to push through a spending bill before he steps down at the end of October, largely by partnering with Democrats. It could be the last thing he does before sacrificing his current role as Speaker.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the agency that determines the costs of proposed legislation, estimates that stripping Planned Parenthood of its federal funding would increase government spending by $130 million over a decade. It would also have a disproportionate effect on low-income women.
This is a breaking news story and has been updated to include emerging details.