U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, who has struggled with repeated rebellions from the conservative wing of his Republican Party, plans to resign from the House at the end of October.
The Ohio lawmaker, 65, stunned Republican House members at a morning meeting with the announcement he will step down from the speakership, the top job in the 435-seat chamber, and resign his seat in Congress effective on Oct. 30.
U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the No. 2 House Republican, is expected to be the leading contender to replace Boehner as speaker, Republican Representative Peter King told reporters.
Representative Paul Ryan, a former U.S. vice presidential candidate, told reporters in a Capitol hallway that McCarthy would likely be the next speaker. Ryan said, “I don’t want to be speaker.”
Boehner’s decision makes the threat of a government shutdown next week less likely, with many Republican lawmakers saying they would forge ahead with a “clean” spending bill that does not withhold funding from the women’s reproductive health group Planned Parenthood, as threatened by some conservatives who object to the group’s abortion services.
The resignation ends a nearly five-year reign as the top Republican in the House. Only the day before Boehner, a Catholic, hosted Pope Francis and broke down in tears as he stood with the Pope to greet crowds on the Capitol’s West front.
Boehner was expected to speak to reporters on Friday morning.
Boehner has faced constant pressure from conservatives who believed he was too willing to compromise with President Barack Obama and too likely to rely on Democratic votes to pass crucial legislation.
Boehner’s plan had been to serve as speaker only through the end of last year, an aide said, but he changed his calculation when his No. 2 at the time, Eric Cantor, lost his seat last year in a Republican primary.