Outgoing Speaker John Boehner: Resignation A Step In Effort To Strength the House

peaker of the House John Boehner speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, September 10, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB
Ssul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

House Speaker John Boehner says he ultimately decided to announce his resignation as a step in his on-going effort to strengthen the House. After walking to the podium singing “zippity do dah,” Boehner addressed his newly-announced departure from Congress by telling reporters that his primary goal has been to protect the institution of Congress.

“This morning I woke up and I said my prayers, as I always do, and I decided, you know, today’s the day I’m going to do this,” he said. “As simple as that. That’s the code I’d always lived by: if you do the right things for the right reasons the right things will happen.”

Boehner reiterated that he initially had planned to step down from Congress at the end of last year, but following the defeat of then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor that November he resolved to step down at the end of this year. Unrest in the House, however, accelerated his departure date.

“It has become clear to me that this prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable harm to the institution. So this morning I informed my colleagues that I would resign from the speakership and resign from Congress at the end of October,” Boehner said.

Friday morning during a closed-door House Republican conference meeting Boehner surprised his caucus by announcing his departure from the Speakership and Congress at the end of October.

“It has been an honor to serve in this institution,” he told reporters after praising and thanking his family and staff.

The Ohio congressman denied that Pope Francis’ visit to the Capitol on Thursday or concerns about losing the speakership in a vote led him to the decision.

“It was never about the vote, all right? There was never any doubt about whether I could survive a vote. I don’t want my members to have to go through this and I certainly don’t want the institution to go through this. Especially when I knew I was thinking about walking out the door anyway. So it was the right time to do it and frankly I am entirely comfortable doing it,” Boehner said.

He added that plenty of members continue to follow him, but pointed to the churning turmoil in the ranks over the past months as unhealthy for members and Congress. Boehner signaled that he did not feel as though conservatives pushed him out.

“I’m glad I made this announcement at the conference with all my Republican members because it was a very good moment to kind of rebuild the team,” Boehner said. “Listen, I feel good about what I’ve done. I know that I, everyday, try to do the right things for right reasons and try to do the right things for the country.”

Of the upcoming tough choices in the days before he exits, Boehner said the decisions will be no different than if he were staying on in Congress and as Speaker.

“When you’re the Speaker of the House you’re number one responsibility is to the institution and having a vote like this, in the institution, I don’t think is very healthy. And so I’ve done everything I can over my term as Speaker to strengthen the institution. And frankly my move today is another step in that effort to strengthen the institution,” he said.