House Speaker John Boehner’s surprising announcement Friday that he will resign Oct. 30 likely signals a government shutdown next week will be averted temporarily, with another battle heating up in December, political watchers say.
“I take [the resignation] to mean Boehner is going to introduce a short-term funding bill, pass it with Democratic support, and then resign,” political strategist Andy Friedman of the Washington Update told ThinkAdvisor on Friday.
Friedman says Boehner’s departure — which published reports say is due to pressure from dissatisfied conservative lawmakers — bears out his prediction that September “will be tumultuous.”
Boehner said in a statement posted on his website that it was his “plan to only serve as speaker until the end of last year,” but that he “stayed on to provide continuity to the Republican Conference and the House.”
Said Boehner: “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 Oct. 30.”
The Wall Street Journal quoted Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., as stating President Barack Obama has “run circles around this Congress since John Boehner’s been speaker,” adding that his constituents wanted to see Boehner replaced. “We need a speaker who is going to be a conservative leader.”
Analysts Joe Lieber and John Leppart of Washington Analysis added in their Friday commentary that after announcing his resignation, Boehner now has “more leeway to negotiate a compromise with Democrats on a ‘clean’ continuing resolution independent of language defunding Planned Parenthood.”
However, the CR would only fund the government until Dec. 11, “so we’ll have to go through this whole thing again in December — with a more confrontational speaker,” Friedman says.
Indeed, Washington Analysis states that with a short-term CR, concern “quickly shifts” to what happens with the next funding measure and a “necessary increase” in the nation’s debt limit.
Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., appears to be the next speaker, which puts the odds of a shutdown or debt default at in December at “only slightly worse than they would be under Boehner, and still well below 50%.”
Lieber and Leppart state that it’s “unlikely that the party who just elected McCarthy to his position would revolt so soon, assuming he is in the no-shutdown camp, which we believe he is.”
That said, they continue, “should a more conservative member, such as Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, amass majority support — though unlikely — the risk begins to increase.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said on the Senate floor that “like America,” he was “stunned” to learn that Boehner was going to resign.
“I have had a relationship with John Boehner for a long time,” he said. “His becoming speaker, of course, made those relations much more close. I have not always agreed and I wasn’t always happy with what John told me, but he never, ever misled me. He never, ever told me something that wasn’t true and I accepted that.”
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