In a stunning move, House Speaker John Boehner informed Republicans on Friday that he will resign from Congress at the end of October.
The surprise decision means there will soon be new leadership in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives and an open seat in Congress.
Speaking to NBC News, a Boehner aide said 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,” the aide said, “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 later released the following statement:
“My mission every day is to fight for a smaller, less costly, and more accountable government. Over the last five years, our majority has advanced conservative reforms that will help our children and their children. I am proud of what we have accomplished.
“The first job of any Speaker is to protect this institution that we all love. It was my plan to only serve as Speaker until the end of last year, but I stayed on to provide continuity to the Republican Conference and the House. It is my view, however, that prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution. To that end, I will resign the Speakership and my seat in Congress on October 30.
“Today, my heart is full with gratitude for my family, my colleagues, and the people of Ohio’s Eighth District. God bless this great country that has given me – the son of a bar owner from Cincinnati – the chance to serve.”
Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) told the Associated Press that Boehner “just does not want to become the issue. Some people have tried to make him the issue both in Congress and outside.”
Boehner has faced unrelenting pressure from conservatives in Congress pressing him to lead the fight to defund Planned Parenthood, using a government spending bill as leverage.
Reacting to the news at the conservative Values Voter Summit in Washington, GOP presidential candidate and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said “the time has come to turn the page.”
Boehner has served as speaker of the House since January 2011.