After months of GOP infighting, Speaker of the House John Boehner announced today his intent to resign from his leadership position as well as his seat in Congress, a move that didn't surprise the leader of the conservative libertarian advocacy group FreedomWorks.
The group actively pursued members of Congress who were displeased with Boehner’s performance.
“We used to joke that, before you beat the Democrats, you’ve probably got to beat the Republicans," Adam Brandon, FreedomWorks president and CEO, said after this morning's announcement. "I think this is a purifying thing."
Brandon said the pressure was mounting on Boehner, and it became clear it was time for him to get out. “The numbers we heard were between 50 and 70 Republicans that were not going to support him for speaker, and I think he just realized the game was up.”
Brandon said FreedomWorks is hopeful that Boehner's relinquishing control will quell some of the infighting and that the GOP can turn its attention to facing off against the Democrats on such issues as lowering corporate taxes, overhauling the tax structure and reining in EPA regulations.
“I hope people realize if you want to keep fighting, we’ll keep fighting,” Brandon said. “We are principled folks. But I hope this gets serious about you start seeing some real serious policies and movement on big things.”
The Republican Party’s activist wing has long accused Boehner of folding to policies pushed by President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.
The first signs of dissent began when the House narrowly passed the $1.014 trillion "Cromnibus" federal spending bill before winter recess late last year with 67 Republican House members who were in favor of a government shutdown voting against it.
Upon convening the 114th Congress in January, tensions within the GOP continued as 25 Republicans voted against installing Boehner as Speaker of the House, a fight that spilled over into July when Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) voted to vacate the speaker’s chair.
The Hill published a story on Thursday accusing Boehner of recruiting an ally to run against Meadows in the next primary.
Despite their tense relationship, in a press release following Boehner’s announcement, Meadow’s praised Boehner’s time as Speaker.
“Speaker Boehner has served honorably during a difficult time for Republicans when the threat of a veto from the White House constantly impedes our legislative agenda,” Meadows said. “At times I differed with Speaker Boehner on policy or procedural positions, but I commend him for his honorable service, his humility, his undeniable love for his country and his desire to serve this great nation.”
Meadows added that he is looking forward to the process to replace Boehner.
“There are critically important issues the House must address in the coming months,” he said. “It is of the utmost importance that our new leadership reflect the diverse makeup of the House Republican Conference and, ultimately, that the voices of the American people are heard through their elected representatives.”
Longtime conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, founder of Eagle Forum, also voiced her support for Boehner’s resignation: “The next Republican speaker of the House must be willing to fight for the principles of America; not simply be a caretaker for the establishment Republicans,” she said. “Tryouts for the job begin today.”
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy looks to be the front-runner to replace Boehner as speaker.
“First up is Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy who must lead the fight to defund Planned Parenthood in the coming weeks,” Schlafly said. “If McCarthy cannot deliver on this commonsense action, then he is unqualified for Speaker. We wish him well in this tryout.”