US House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner’s sudden resignation under intense pressure has set off a leadership battle in Congress that may be critical for Republican lawmakers.
The Republican from Ohio told colleagues in a closed-door gathering Friday that he would leave at the end of October, sending shockwaves through Capitol Hill.
Even as Boehner’s colleagues were still absorbing the news, the speculation over who would succeed him had already begun.
The resignation of Boehner, who has served as speaker of the House since 2011, creates an opening for the more conservative wing of the House caucus.
One person who is naturally next in line is House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a US representative for California’s 23rd District.
But McCarthy is expected to face a challenge for the speakership, though it’s unclear how serious that fight will be.
During his press conference Friday afternoon, Boehner effectively endorsed McCarthy.
“I am not going to be here to vote on the next Speaker. But that’s up to the next members. But having said that, I think that Kevin McCarthy would make an excellent Speaker,” Boehner said.
The speaker of the House is second in the US presidential line of succession, after the vice president.
Boehner, 65, has long faced intense pressure from his conservative colleagues to take a tougher stance against Democrats on divisive issues like Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood.
Boehner presented his decision to resign as a way to spare Congress a fresh round of Republican infighting and prevent another government shutdown.
Planned Parenthood provides reproductive health as well as maternal and child health services. The organization has been under fire over allegations that it has improperly used fetal tissue from abortions.
Conservatives demand Congress must punish Planned Parenthood over the abortion controversy by denying it federal funding. The brinksmanship has prevented lawmakers from passing a budget for the 2016 fiscal year.
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