House of Representatives speaker John Boehner to resign

Republican has been repeatedly challenged by more conservative wing of party

John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, will resign as speaker of the House  of Representatives next month. Photograph: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, will resign as speaker of the House of Representatives next month. Photograph: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

 

US House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, who has struggled with repeated rebellions from the more conservative wing of his Republican Party, plans to resign from the House at the end of October.

The Ohio lawmaker, (65), stunned Republican House members at a morning meeting with the announcement he will step down from the speakership, the top job in the 435-seat chamber, and resign his seat in Congress effective on October 30th.

US Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the number two House Republican, is expected to be the leading contender to replace Mr Boehner as speaker, Republican Representative Peter King told reporters.

Representative Paul Ryan, a former US vice presidential candidate, told reporters in a Capitol hallway that Mr McCarthy would likely be the next speaker. “I don’t want to be speaker,” said Mr Ryan.

Mr Boehner’s decision makes the threat of a government shutdown next week less likely, with many Republican lawmakers saying they would forge ahead with a “clean” spending bill that does not withhold funding from the women’s reproductive health group Planned Parenthood, as threatened by some conservatives who object to the group’s abortion services.

The resignation ends a nearly five-year reign as the top Republican in the House. Only the day before, Mr Boehner, a Catholic, hosted Pope Francis and broke down in tears as he stood with the Pope to greet crowds on the Capitol’s West front.

Mr Boehner has faced constant pressure from conservatives who believed he was too willing to compromise with President Barack Obama and too likely to rely on Democratic votes to pass crucial legislation.

Mr Boehner’s plan had been to serve as speaker only through the end of last year, an aide said, but he changed his calculation when his number two at the time, Eric Cantor, lost his seat last year in a Republican primary.

The aide said Boehner believed putting members through prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution.

The son of a bar owner and one of 12 children, Mr Boehner is the only college graduate in his family. He grew up in Cincinnati and served in the US Navy in 1969, then became a small businessman before launching a political career.