Surprising many today, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH-8) announced his resignation from Congress. Boehner will be ending his five-year term as Speaker at the end of October; he was first elected to Congress in 1990.
Who is Next at Bat?
With Boehner’s resignation, House Republicans are now scrambling to rehash the party’s leadership. At the moment, it is expected that House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23,) will make a run for the Speakership. Currently, no other member has said they will challenge the Majority Leader. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, Paul Ryan, has already stated that he will not be running for the position. Georgia Congressman Tom Price is expected to run for the House Majority Leadership. Other names at play for the number two spot in GOP leadership include Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-5), Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX-32), and current Majority Whip, Steve Scalise (R-LA-1).
While this resignation shocked many, many Tea Party conservatives – in particular those of the House Freedom Caucus – were preparing to replace Boehner. In recent years, the Tea Party movement has been known to clash with Boehner on key decisions, ranging from the debt limit, Obamacare, government funding, and most recently, the defunding of planned parenthood. The next few weeks will be interesting to see how those members react and attempt to influence the decision making process for the next Speaker.
What Does this Mean for ESEA and Government Shutdown?
With John Boehner’s departure from Congress, many question marks remain regarding the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Boehner was one of the key figure heads in establishing the 2002 rewrite of ESEA, No Child Left Behind; however, in the latest attempt, the Speaker has remained much behind the scenes. Eyes will remain on the leadership of both the House and Senate education committee leaders to close out this deal. An aide to Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chairman of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee has stated this does not change the House’s reauthorization and expressed full confidence a compromised agreement in the conference committee will pass the House.
Boehner’s resignation is also an indication that Congress will avert a Government Shutdown next week. It is anticipated that the House and Senate will vote on a clean Continuing Resolution next week to fund the government through December 11. With this development, ESEA conference committee conferees should be announced by early to mid October, as scheduled. While this solves the immediate crisis, Boehner’s successor could be finding themselves in the same position if Congress does not compromise in these upcoming months on respective funding bills.
NAfME will continue to monitor developments closely in regards to all these topics. Stay tuned on social media and on our advocacy blog to receive the latest updates on these continuing developments in Washington. A video of the Speaker’s full resignation speech and press conference may be found on his leadership website.
Ronny Lau, Legislative Policy Advisor, Center for Advocacy, Policy, and Constituency Engagement, September 25, 2015. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org).