The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, John Boehner (R-OH), announced he is retiring at the end of next month. The announcement was made on Friday, Sept. 25, a day after Pope Francis made a speech before a joint session of Congress.
Boehner, a Roman Catholic, has been working on bringing the Pope for a visit for 20 years. He had a private meeting with the Pontiff preceding the Pope’s address to Congress.
Boehner, 65, will not only step down as Speaker of the House, he will be leaving Congress altogether at the end of October.
The Speaker has been the object of tremendous criticism over his handling of several recent crises, particularly from party members to his right.
The timing of Boehner’s resignation will likely mean that he is free to work with Democrats on avoiding a looming government shutdown over funding of Planned Parenthood.
The election for the next Speaker must take place as soon as possible, as no government activity can occur without a Speaker in place, according to Chad Pegram, Capitol Hill correspondent for Fox News.
A Boehner aide released a statement that 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 believes putting members through prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution.”
The most likely replacement as Speaker is House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy(R-CA-23), but analysts suggested that due to recent upheavals in the House over several critical issues, it is too soon to make a confident guess about Boehner’s successor. McCarthy is a liberal Republican, except on issues like abortion.