What Really Caused John Boehner To Resign

Last Friday, John Boehner announced in an emotional press conference that he would resign as speaker of the House and leave Congress at the end of October. When news broke that Boehner is to resign, it spurred a frenzy of speculation, stunning both Republicans and Democrats alike, CNN reported. He told reporters he made the difficult choice after “a night of sleep and prayers” in an effort to avoid putting himself or the House through additional struggles.

“It’s become clear to me that this prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable harm to the institution. This isn’t about me. It’s about the people, it’s about the institution.”

The turmoil Boehner is speaking of mostly involved battles with conservatives who are aligned with the Tea Party movement, a challenge he’s been trying to overcome throughout most of his five-year tenure as speaker, the Atlantic reported. Most recently, the battle was centered around defunding Planned Parenthood, with ultra-conservatives threatening to force Boehner to resign if he failed to fight hard on a new spending bill.

Conservatives said they would call up a procedural motion to “vacate the chair” and force the election of a new speaker of the house, which would have made it necessary for Boehner to seek the support of democrats. Instead, the move caused Boehner to resign and he is now expected to defy conservatives one more time by bringing up a funding bill to prevent a government shutdown next week that does not cut money from Planned Parenthood.

Boehner announced plans to resign in a private meeting at in the Capitol Friday, just one day after he met Pope Francis and had a “private moment” with the pontiff, when he took the speaker aside and asked Boehner to pray for him. The request “deeply humbled” Boehner, who is a devout Catholic.

“Who am I to pray for the pope? But I did.”

Less than 24 hours after he stood crying next to the pope on a balcony at the Capitol, Boehner would announce his resignation.

The move is putting pressure on conservatives from the House Freedom Caucus to find a candidate who will make it possible to gain more influence among the leadership. Boehner allies are reportedly pushing for his chief deputy House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to run for Speaker.

Regardless, it seems clear that the decision of Boehner to resign was a highly personal one, and not something he has taken lightly. Since taking the Republican party back to the majority in 2010, Boehner also successfully grew the GOP conference to historic levels by 2014.

[Photo by Astrid Riecken / Stringer / Getty Images]