The news of House Speaker John Boehner stepping down from his speakership and leaving Congress midterm shocked the political world on Friday, with members of the House leadership only finding out about his decision moments before his announcement.
Both House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Greg Walden, a member of Boehner’s House leadership team, had no idea Boehner would announce his resignation until the last minute.
People are wondering, why now? Apparently, the pope’s visit to congress was a determining factor for the speaker.
According to CNN, Boehner didn’t come to his decision to resign until last night:
Boehner, who has presided over the House since 2011, explained during a closed-door meeting with Republicans Friday morning that he had only planned to serve two terms as speaker but decided to hold onto his post after then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his seat during a primary last year, a Republican lawmaker in the room told CNN.
Boehner, who didn’t speak to reporters on Friday, also told the lawmakers that Pope Francis’ visit to Congress the day before was a crystallizing moment, according to the lawmaker. Boehner then read the prayer of St. Francis to the conference after announcing his decision.
“After yesterday with the Pope, he decided to leave on this high note,” a top Boehner aide told CNN. “Literally did not make the decision til last night.”
As the Drudge Report noted in its headline, Boehner had “one last cry” at the meeting, but he was not the only one.
Ohio GOP Rep. Steve Chabot called the mood in the room “somber” during Boehner’s announcement and said there were tears from the Speaker and other lawmakers.
“I got choked up,” Chabot said.
McCarthy (R-CA), who is somewhat to the left of Boehner politically, is the leading contender to succeed him as speaker.
Rep. Paul Ryan, the House Ways and Means Committee chairman who was the party’s vice presidential nominee in 2012, isn’t interested in running for the seat at this time, CNN reports.
Boehner was to hold a press conference today to publicly announce his decision to resign, but that press conference has reportedly been cancelled.
BREAKING NEWS: House Speaker Boehner cancels press conference on resignation
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) September 25, 2015