Last Friday, political buffs were surprised to learn that Speaker of the House John Boehner would soon be resigning not just the speakership, but also his seat in Congress.
While a surprise, observers could not exactly call the news shocking. Boehner’s speakership was a turbulent one nearly from the start.
Despite being a close ally of former Speaker Newt Gingrich, many Republicans of the more tea party or libertarian persuasion viewed Boehner as a product of the Washington establishment, and insufficiently committed to opposing Democrats and the President. Meanwhile, Boehner’s tactics were still too confrontational to foster much, if any, across-the-aisle support of his speakership.
Despite a government shutdown and numerous attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Boehner’s base of support came almost exclusively from mainstream republicans.
Despite largely holding the line in 2012, Obama’s re-election and increasing his Congressional majority in 2014, Boehner’s base gradually dwindled.
This became extremely apparent with his last election to the speakership, where over 30 members of his party opted to either not participate or vote for another Republican.
In recent months, talk of a tea party coup against Boehner has also been featured prominently on political news sites.
While the announcement was a surprise, it was not a shock.
As for what exactly this means for Congress, there are a variety of opinions, but the consensus seems to be that this is far from a victory for Democrats.
While Democrats are likely happy to see Boehner go, his successor is extremely unlikely to be a more pleasant adversary.
Although Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks recently told Yellowhammer News he predicts that Boehner’s successor will be a liberal Republican, Democrats are unlikely to agree with the prediction.
Kevin McCarthy, Boehner’s heir, ranks similarly to the soon-to-be former speaker on most ideological listings. Meanwhile, McCarthy’s competitors for the position, Tom Price of Georgia and Steve Scalise of Louisiana, are viewed as being further to the right.
Because of this, congressional leadership may take a significant rightward shift, or if McCarthy is to emerge victorious, he will likely have to pay for this position by awarding the tea party faction larger say in matters—resulting in a slightly more rightward shift.
However, Democrats and Republicans that are worried over another government shutdown do gain from the announcement. Boehner seems to have a genuine desire to avoid another drawn-out funding battle, and the announcement frees him to invest his remaining checks and political capital in preventing brokering a deal.