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“Bye Bye Boehner”: The Speaker’s Exit Has The Potential To Cause Chaos On Capitol Hill

Friday morning, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced his resignation and rocked the political world. The embattled speaker will step down at the end of October. Boehner’s latest move was abrupt and unexpected. Until this morning’s announcement, Washington was still collectively basking in the afterglow of Pope Francis’s historic visit to our city. Now, the speaker’s impending exit has everyone wondering what happens next.

The most immediate matter on Congress’ agenda is the continued funding for the operations of the federal government. Current funding is due to expire at the end of the fiscal year, which is Sept. 30. Congress has not passed the funding bills for fiscal year 2016, so it must take some type of action next week to avoid shutting the government down. According to the Washington Post, the speaker’s resignation has cleared the way for this to happen, and Congress will pass a short-term funding deal that would keep the government running.

Until this morning, some House Republicans were threatening to vote against continued funding for the government unless the necessary legislative package also included provisions to defund Planned Parenthood. The division within his own party could have left Boehner without the votes needed to pass even a temporary funding bill, but his resignation seems to have appeased the conservatives who opposed him. Rep. John Fleming, R-La., told the Post, “The commitment has been made that there will be no shutdown.”

While the initial crisis of a potential government shutdown will be averted, Congress still has much more to do before the end of the year. These matters will become more complicated with the new hole in the House’s Republican leadership. Although the member next in line for the speakership seems to be House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the Washington Post noted that many House Republicans “believe he lacks the political and tactical gravitas to be a force in the House,” adding “The resignation sets up a bruising leadership race that will represent a long-delayed open clash between conservative and establishment Republicans.”

The crucial matters that Congress must decide on before the end of the year include a long-term funding package for the remainder of fiscal year 2016 and legislation to raise the debt ceiling, which is expected to become necessary in late October or November. The potential for a contentious leadership race, which pits conservatives against the rest of Republican conference, could make reaching consensus on these remaining matters difficult. Unless House Republicans are able to decide on a new leadership slate quickly, the rest of the year could be ugly on Capitol Hill.

Long-term, the effects Boehner’s retirement could be more far reaching. The speaker may not have been beloved by Democrats or by some of the members of his own party, but he was a force in the House and he won more than he lost. He had one of the most difficult jobs in Washington, but he worked every day to bring the factions of his House majority together so that Congress could continue with the work of the people. Most of the time, he succeeded.

It remains to be seen whether any of those who will run to replace him will be able to do the same. Recent calls from members of his own party for his removal had damaged the speaker somewhat, but he was still the most powerful, effective and thoughtful member of his party’s leadership in the House. With a relatively weak bench lined up to succeed him, Boehner’s resignation has the potential to create chaos now and in the years to come.


By: Cary Gibson, Government Relations Consultant, Prime Policy Group; Thomas Jefferson Street Blog, U. S. News and World Report, September 25, 2015

September 27, 2015 - Posted by | Federal Budget, House Republicans, John Boehner | , , , , , , ,


  1. If I was a betting man, the turmoil is definitely not good for the Republican party and more than likely not good for the country, as needed legislation may not get passed. Being an Independent voter, I care about the latter.


    Comment by Keith | September 27, 2015 | Reply



    Comment by walthe310 | September 27, 2015 | Reply

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