'Simple As That': Boehner Decided To Resign On Friday
(This post was last updated at 1:31 p.m. ET.)
House Speaker John Boehner will give up his seat in Congress at the end of October.
Boehner became the 53rd speaker of the House in 2011. The Ohio Republican's tenure has been marked by fierce confrontations with Democrats and sometimes with his own party. One of those fights led to a 16-day partial government shutdown in 2013.
Amid renewed conflict with more conservative members of his party, Boehner is once again facing the prospect of a government shutdown.
During a press conference at the Capitol, Boehner says he made his decision this morning, after picking up a cup of coffee.
"I thought: today is the day I'm going to do this ... as simple as that," Boehner said.
Boehner said that he expected to serve through the end of last year but he changed his mind after seven-term Rep. Eric Cantor, the former House majority leader, lost his seat to a Tea Party candidate in 2014.
He stayed, he said, to give some stability to the institution and today he is stepping down for the good of the institution.
Boehner acknowledged that the past few months have brought renewed calls for him to step down. He said he could survive those calls but he didn't want to cause the institution more turmoil.
"I really don't want the institution hurt," he said. "I don't want my colleagues hurt. I don't want to put my colleagues through this."
Boehner, who has 11 brothers and sisters, grew up working at his family's tavern. He has represented Ohio's 8th Congressional District since 1990.
His speakership was almost immediately challenged in 2011 as the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party refused to vote for a plan to raise the debt ceiling.
In 2013, that fight came to a head, ending in a partial government shutdown. At the time, both Democrats and Republicans criticized the speaker, accusing him of being too accommodating to the conservative wing of his party.
Boehner is in the same position now, NPR's Brian Naylor tells our Newscast unit, except this time the fight is over the funding of Planned Parenthood. The conservative wing of his party wants to defund Planned Parenthood as part of a bill to keep the government open.
"There has been a movement by renegade Republicans to oust him from the speakership," Brian says.
Update at 12:59 p.m. ET. Took President By Surprise:
During a joint news conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Obama said that the news of Boehner's resignation took him by surprise.
Obama had nothing but praise for Boehner, saying he has always treated him with courtesy and civility and has always kept his word on a deal.
"John Boehner is a good man. He is a patriot," Obama said. Importantly, the president added, he's a man who understands that in "government you don't get 100 percent of what you want."
Update at 12:06 p.m. ET. Proud Of Accomplishments:
Boehner issued this statement a short while ago:
"My 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. I am proud of what we have accomplished.
"The first job of any Speaker is to protect this institution that we all love. 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."
Update at 10:58 a.m. ET. Boehner Walks Past Reporters:
Boehner was supposed to speak to reporters after he met with the GOP conference. Microphones had been set up at the Capitol, but minutes ago Boehner walked past reporters without saying anything.
The meeting is over, and he is back in his office. He may choose to speak later today, but that's still an unknown.
Update at 10:16 a.m. ET: An Encounter About A Looming Shutdown
NPR's Scott Detrow saw Boehner leaving a restaurant last night in Washington, D.C. He sends us this missive:
"Boehner looked relaxed and content last night, when he emerged from his favorite Washington Italian restaurant, Trattoria Alberto, around 9:30.
"A man who appeared to be the owner saw Boehner and his family out. And as the speaker walked to his SUV, a man at a neighboring restaurant approached the speaker for a handshake, and then asked him to please not shut the federal government down.
"Boehner embraced the man, grabbing both his shoulders, and said, 'That's not going to happen.'
" 'Look at me,' he said, pointing to both men's eyes with two fingers. 'From me to you, that's not going to happen.' "
Update at 10:05 a.m. ET: Applause At Values Voter Summit
NPR's Jessica Taylor sends this report from the Values Voter Summit, where GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio broke the news to the crowd:
"When Rubio announced at Values Voter Summit that Boehner had announced he was resigning, there was huge applause and a standing ovation.
"He deviated some from his prepared remarks. While he said he respected Boehner, 'the time has come to turn the page for a new generation of leadership, and that extends to the White House.' "