The unexpected resignation of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner on Friday further unearthed a divide between two members of the all-Republican Kansas delegation.
Rep. Lynn Jenkins, who represents the 2nd District, has been a member of House leadership under Boehner and allied herself with the speaker on many occasions. On Aug. 31, Boehner attended a private fundraiser for Jenkins in Topeka.
In a brief statement Thursday, Jenkins bid Boehner a warm farewell.
“Any country that allows the son of a bar owner to rise to be second in line to the President, is a good place. And the man who did just that, is a good man and I wish him well in whatever is next for this newly minted Grandpa Boehner,” the congresswoman said.
In a news release announcing his retirement, Boehner, R-Ohio, said he planned to retire at the beginning of 2015 but remained in the position “to provide continuity to the Republican Conference and the House.” Jenkins is vice-chair of the Republican Conference.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp, who represents the 1st District, has been an outspoken critic of Boehner for several years. The tea party congressman has led charges to oust Boehner as speaker after Boehner removed him from two committee assignments in late 2012.
In a tweet soon after Boehner’s announcement was made public, Huelskamp was succinct.
“Today the establishment lost,” Huelskamp wrote.
Boehner’s departure comes as he faces backlash from conservatives, such as Huelskamp, who argue Republican leaders aren’t doing enough to freeze federal funding for Planned Parenthood. While the House has passed a bill to do exactly that, Boehner has been hesitant to tie the measure to a must-pass government funding resolution for fear of provoking a government shutdown.
Boehner will leave office Oct. 30, making passage of the government spending resolution one of his final major acts as speaker.
“The only thing @SpeakerBoehner has to lose now is his #prolife principles,” Huelskamp tweeted Friday.
Roger Marshall, who is challenging Huelskamp in next August’s Republican primary, said he was grateful for Boehner’s service.
“I have not always agreed with John Boehner, but I am grateful for his service to our country,” Marshall said in a statement. “My prayer is that the next Speaker is someone who can move past the divisions in Congress and get Washington D.C. working for the good of the American people again instead of individual members prioritizing their own political ambition.”
Elsewhere in the Kansas congressional delegation, opinions on Boehner’s departure were tempered, falling somewhere between the well wishes of Jenkins and celebratory tweets of Huelskamp.
“While the Speaker and I sometimes disagreed on tactics, no one can question his commitment to making America a better place,” Rep. Mike Pompeo said. “I thank him for his service to our country, and I wish him all the best in the future.”
Rep. Kevin Yoder called Boehner “a good man” and said he was “thankful for his service and dedication” to the country.
“I respect his decision to step aside and allow the House Republican Conference to elect a new leader, so we can move forward together and solve the challenges facing our nation,” Yoder said. “I wish the best to John, Debbie, and his entire family.”
Progressives, meanwhile, were conflicted Friday between their opposition to Boehner and concerns that his resignation could give way to a more conservative speaker.
“It looks like leadership in the House may go from bad to worse,” said Dawn Laguens with the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “While John Boehner was never a champion of women’s health in this country, even he recognized that defunding Planned Parenthood wasn’t what the American people wanted.”