His announcement today that he’ll not only step down as speaker, but also leave Congress Oct. 30, ensures the government won’t close next week as many have feared.
His resignation was both a bone toss and a punch in the mouth to the pro-shutdown, anti-Boehner caucus on the right flank of the House Republicans. It was a bone toss because they wanted him out anyway. A few Republicans have been voting against Boehner for speaker since he was first a candidate for the job. Long before Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) introduced a resolution to vacate the Speaker’s chair, the House Freedom Caucus had discussed scenarios that would involve some other member — not necessarily one of their own — taking Boehner’s place.
It was a punch in the mouth because Boehner doesn’t need the far right any more. He only needed them before to keep his job. Now that he’s short-timing it, he is free to cut any deal he wants with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the White House, get the deal done and signed, drop the mic, and exit stage left at the end of October.
Here is what is likely to happen between now and the Sept. 30 deadline to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government open:
Boehner’s vote-counting team will verify how many Republican votes they have for a clean continuing resolution that does not include any of the language to defund Planned Parenthood that President Barack Obama has promised to veto, nor will that CR include any other riders that would prevent it from passing. No “deal-breakers.”
Boehner’s team will work with Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to confirm they have enough Democrats to vote for the clean CR and get to the 218 votes they need to pass it.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will deliver a vote on a clean CR in the Senate on Monday as already scheduled. If any senators object and try to stop it (paging Ted Cruz), McConnell and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) will pin his ears back as I suggested previously.
The Senate will send the CR to the House Monday afternoon after it passes.
The House will vote on it as soon as possible, confident in the vote-counting both caucuses did Friday and over the weekend, and pass it.
The House will send the clean CR to the White House, where President Obama will sign it, ensuring no shutdown until at least Dec. 11.
Pelosi calls this development “seismic.” She’s right. Sadly, this seismic event doesn’t mean there will never be another shutdown, it just means Boehner was willing to give up his speakership to make sure there won’t be one next week.