The “coincidences” just keep piling up. Today, September 25th, 2015, John A. Boehner announced that he will resign one of the most powerful positions in the world – Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
In these United States, national government is divided into three branches:
- The Executive Branch: the President of the United States of America heads the Executive Branch
- The Legislative Branch: the Legislative Branch is divided into two components: the House of Representatives and the Senate
- The Judicial Branch
The Senate was originally designed to represent the Several States – not the People in those States. Two Senators were appointed by the Legislatures of each of the States. These Senators could be recalled to report on their performance in the Senate at any time – and could be immediately replaced by the Legislature of their State. Today, however, States have surrendered this power and have given it to the People of the States – except for the recall, report, and replace powers which were lost completely.
The Vice President of the United States (VPOTUS) is the ex officio President of the Senate. He has the power to cast tie-breaking votes and the right to act as presiding officer over the Senate. Even though the VPOTUS is the President of the Senate, the day to day operation of the Senate is carried out by the President pro tempore – well, sort of.
The rules of the Senate give the President of the Senate (or President pro tempore) very little power (in contrast to powerful office of Speaker of the House).
The Vice President (currently Joe Biden) is the first in line of succession to replace the President of the United States.
The President pro tempore of the Senate (Currently Orrin Hatch) is the third in line of succession to replace the President of the United States
House of Representatives
Representatives are elected by the People of the State which they will represent. Every State has at least two Representatives, but most have more than that – based on population. The House of Representatives is lead by the Speaker of the House, who has historically belonged to the political party that holds the majority of seats – today that’s the Republicans.
January 6th, 2015, the newly elected House of Representatives voted to elect their Speaker. Those elected were a particularly conservative bunch, and it was assumed that the historically not conservative John Boehner would not be elected to the seat. Some did not vote for Boehner, but when he won re-election he removed those who voted against him from their positions on Senate Committees – a move that many felt was vindictive and punitive.
Mia Love, the first black woman to represent the People of Utah, shocked some conservatives when the first vote she cast as a new congresswoman was to keep John Boehner as Speaker of the House. Many of her constituents claimed they had lost faith in their “hero”, and that she had shown her “true self”.
John Boehner Resigns
Boehner struggled to manage the challenges of partisan politics, and to address the increasingly conservative viewpoints of the Republican members of the House. In 2013, President Obama refused to sign a Continuing Resolution to fund the United States federal government, and caused a shutdown that ran from October 1st to October 16th, 2013. The President and the mainstream media blamed the shutdown on the Republicans, who had successfully added a provision to delay the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) to the bill. President Obama apparently felt it was more desirable to shut down the government (by refusing to sign the bill) than to delay the implementation of his health care bill – but that’s not the message he was able to “sell” to the People, he successfully blamed the shutdown on the Republicans, despite the fact that it was his missing signature that shut down the government. What’s more, Democrats refused to come to the negotiation table leading up to and during the shutdown – a move that most characterize as a way to make the shutdown “more painful”.
Today we find ourselves on the eve of another shutdown because Republicans in the House want to add provisions to the Continuing Resolution that would defund Planned Parenthood (after ten videos showing top leadership negotiating to sell parts from aborted babies have surfaced) and prohibit abortions where the fetus is capable of feeling pain (after 20 weeks). President Obama has promised to veto any bill with those provisions – including a Continuing Resolution. Put another way, if Republicans defund Planned Parenthood or prohibit abortions after 20 weeks, President Obama has promised to shut down the government – though he and the mainstream media will likely blame this on Republicans again.
Speaker Boehner is under intense pressure from conservatives in his party and is even facing an effort by some that would declare the Speaker of the House position vacant (essentially a vote of no-confidence in Boehner) that, if successful, would all but end his political career.
Due to those and other conditions, today Boehner announced that he plans to resign not only his position as Speaker of the House, but his Congressional seat as well – vacating both at the end of October 2015.
Once the Speaker seat is vacated, a new election will be held in the House. Representatives would likely cast their votes along party lines, which would put Representative Kevin McCarthy of California (the current Majority Leader) as the likely winner.
However, some of the more conservative Representatives would like Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to serve in the position (Ryan has said he does not want the job). Nonetheless, if the Republican vote is split between two (or more) candidates, it’s entirely possible that a Democrat would be elected to the position – which would be very unusual.
“John Boehner has been a great leader of the Republican Party and the House of Representatives. This was an act of pure selflessness. John’s decades of service have helped move our country forward, and I deeply value his friendship. We will miss John, and I am confident our conference will elect leaders who are capable of meeting the challenges our nation faces. I wish John and his family well as he begins the next phase of his life.” – Representative Paul Ryan
Senator John McCain of Arizona, who many conservatives call a RINO (“Republican in Name Only”) due to his fairly Liberal voting record, was surprised, and said that Boehner’s resignation had “perilous implications” for Republican prospects going into next year’s elections.
“It means that’s it in disarray. Basically he has been unseated. And that’s not good for the Republican Party. We’ve got to unite and recognize who the adversary is.” – John McCain
Many conservatives feel this is an opportunity.
“Too often, Speaker Boehner has stood in the way. Today’s announcement is a sign that the voice of the American people is breaking through in Washington. Now is the time for a principled, conservative leader to emerge. Heritage Action will continue fighting for conservative policy solutions, and we look forward to working with the new leadership team.” – Michael A. Needham, Chief Executive of Heritage Action
It’s clear that Boehner wants to avert another government shutdown while on his watch. In the past Boehner has relied on Democrats to sidestep conservative resistance to budget deals with the White House.
“He will be free to prevent a government shutdown, as he has said he wants to do, by doing what he’s done numerous times, and that’s to pass a bill with [Democratic Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi’s help. After that, he can ride off into the sunset.” – Omar Sharif, SG Americas Security
Boehner had this to say:
“My mission every day is to fight for a smaller, less costly, and more accountable government. Over the last five years, our majority has advanced conservative reforms that will help our children and their children. I am proud of what we have accomplished.
“The first job of any Speaker is to protect this institution that we all love. It was my plan to only serve as Speaker until the end of last year, but I stayed on to provide continuity to the Republican Conference and the House. 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 October 30.
“Today, my heart is full with gratitude for my family, my colleagues, and the people of Ohio’s Eighth District. God bless this great country that has given me – the son of a bar owner from Cincinnati – the chance to serve.”
What does all this mean, and does anyone else think it’s ironic that the announcement came on September 25th, 2015, the Day of Atonement?