Boehner’s resignation symbolizes sorry state of bipartisanship

By Editorial Board

In the last four years, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) has trudged through multiple debt ceiling battles, two of the least productive Congresses in history and a government shutdown.

Boehner announced his resignation from Congress Sept. 25. His resignation, effective Oct. 30, is not due to an electoral defeat or in response to a scandal—his announcement can be attributed to the lack of bipartisanship in the House.Boehner’s decision is not surprising given the divisiveness of the Republican Party on Capitol Hill. The more extreme House Republicans were willing to shut down the government by the end of October in an effort to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood. This mirrors the government shutdown of 2013, when Tea Party Republicans forced a shutdown in a legislative temper-tantrum because Obamacare was not going to be defunded. 

Five days before Boehner’s resignation, Politico published an exclusive interview with him. When asked about the challenges of his job, Boehner said, “Garbage men get used to the smell of bad garbage. Prisoners learn how to become prisoners, all right?” 

Someone who compares his job as a leader of House Republicans to picking up garbage or being imprisoned clearly does not feel fulfilled or successful.

Boehner, a member of Congress since 1991, emerged as a leader of the Republican party in the early 2000s. However, he has led many efforts to bridge the gap between Republicans and Democrats. In 2001, Boehner co-authored No Child Left Behind with representatives from both parties. As the House Minority Leader in 2008, Boehner worked with then-speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to push former president George W. Bush’s stimulus package. However, with the rise of Tea Party Republicans and the extreme right wing in recent years, members of his own Republican party began to attack Boehner’s attempts at bipartisanship.

His loyalties to the Republican Party are unassailable. The Speaker was seen as the GOP’s prominent voice against Obama and the Democratic Party throughout his leadership. Boehner heavily supported the King v. Burwell case in which the House sued the executive branch, claiming that Obama’s actions were “outside the powers granted to his office under our Constitution,” according to a Sept. 9 press release. 

Despite his staunch conservative values, nothing Boehner did could appease his increasingly-extreme Republican peers. A Sept. 9 Vox article reported Tea Party House members were trying to force a vote to push Boehner out of power. In the end, these right-wing extremists got their way. Some might be celebrating Boehner’s departure, but it should be acknowledged that his resignation symbolizes the continuing deterioration of bipartisanship in American politics.