John Boehner

After 13 years, House Speaker John Boehner is set to resign.

By Mike DeBonis and Kelsey Snell
September 26, 2015 at 9:18 PM

House Speaker John A. Boehner’s stunning resignation throws the congressional agenda into disarray, with short-term hope for passing crucial items offset by the long-term fear that old battles will only be repeated.

By defusing a conservative revolt that threatened to end his speakership, Boehner’s announcement effectively ended the immediate threat of a government shutdown. And because he is not leaving Congress until Oct. 30, some Republicans and many Democrats are hoping the speaker finds the resolve to push through legislation that enjoys bipartisan support but has been stalled by conservative objections.

Yet any progress may be hampered by the internal politics of the House Republican Conference and the leadership races to replace Boehner and his lieutenants.

Measures that could advance in October include a long-term budget deal, a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, a multiyear highway bill and an extension of the federal debt ceiling. Some Democrats have made the unlikely suggestion that Boehner could move forward with the immigration reform package he has kept off the House floor for nearly two years because of a conservative outcry.

“He gets a chance to really go out on a high note,” said Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio). “I expect to see a very busy month in October.”
Inside John Boehner’s reign as speaker of the House

But the possibility that Boehner might clear the legislative deck for the next speaker is complicated by the pending reshuffle of the House GOP leadership. Boehner’s deputies are looking to move up the ladder — starting with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who manages the floor schedule — and moving ahead with an agenda disliked by conservatives would be politically treacherous.

Quick elections could give Boehner room to maneuver in his final weeks, and in the past, leadership vacancies have been filled swiftly. When, for instance, then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) lost his reelection bid and subsequently announced his intention to resign in June 2014, the GOP conference elected McCarthy nine days later to replace him.

But some are pushing back on an accelerated election schedule. Rep. Peter J. Roskam (R-Ill.), who is seen as a likely candidate for a leadership post, on Saturday urged his colleagues to convene an extended conference meeting to conduct a “serious discussion about why we’re here serving, what we expect of our leaders, and how we plan to accomplish our goals.”

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