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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Boehner announces resignation as speaker, a day after meeting with Labrador, other dissidents over gov’t shutdown

Big news from Washington, D.C. today, as House Speaker John Boehner announces he’ll both step down as speaker and resign from Congress at the end of October. A Boehner aide told NBC News that the speaker "believes putting members through prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution. He is proud of what this majority has accomplished, and his speakership, but for the good of the Republican Conference and the institution, he will resign the speakership and his seat in Congress, effective October 30.”

Boehner met with five members of the House Freedom Caucus, a conservative group, including Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador on Thursday afternoon, according to Politico, as the dissidents pushed for a government shutdown over defunding Planned Parenthood. Politico reported last night, “Upon leaving the meeting, none of the dissidents would commit to trying to overthrow Boehner or comment directly on what was said during the session in the speaker's office. But the Freedom Caucus held two private meetings on Thursday, according to a source, and a number of members of the group are openly discussing the need to replace Boehner.”

Shortly after 10:30 a.m. today, Labrador issued this statement:

“Though I differed with Speaker Boehner on the pace of reform, I respect and admire him. He served Ohio and the House with distinction and grace. I wish him the very best. As for succession, today is not the day for such talk. But I am committed to supporting leaders who will keep our promise to the American people to fight for real change in Washington.”

Here is a statement from 2nd District Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson, who has been an ally of Boehner:

“First, I cannot say strongly enough my gratitude for Speaker Boehner's leadership over the past five years.  Facing challenges that often seemed insurmountable, he has consistently acted with integrity and in the best interest of this nation.  I am confident that history will look kindly on John Boehner's speakership.

“Leadership on the national stage looks appealing to many, but those who step into his shoes do not have an enviable task ahead.  Good leadership requires wisdom, humility, a willingness to listen to those who might have a different perspective, and the courage to do the right thing. This is especially difficult when you are leading a fractious party and divided nation, but this is how Speaker Boehner led.  I wish my friend well as he finishes his work here and moves on.”

Idaho Reports host Melissa Davlin notes that that IR interviewed Labrador earlier this month in his Washington, D.C. office, and he dropped hints about trying to force out Boehner, whom he has both voted against and for as speaker. “I voted against him two years ago and I voted for him this time because he made me a promise that he was going to change,” Labrador told IR’s Aaron Kunz. “Well, that promise has not been kept.”

“I was giving him a chance, because we had a new House, a new Senate, we had the largest majorities we had ever had in a generation or more, and I thought that things would change now that we have a Senate majority,” Labrador said. “I think things are worse. What needs to change is either they change as a leadership team or we need to change the leadership team. And that’s what this month is really about, this next month of September.”

Davlin’s full blog post is online here, along with an excerpt from the Labrador interview; the full interview will be featured on the upcoming season of Idaho Reports, which starts airing Oct. 2.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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