Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz reacted Friday to House Speaker John Boehner's surprise announcement that he was stepping down next month by speculating that he may have arranged a deal with Democrats to fund the federal government in exchange for a lobbying job after he leaves Congress.
"The early reports are discouraging," the Texas senator told reporters after speaking at the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit in Washington, The New York Times reports.
"If it is correct that the speaker, before he resigns, has cut a deal with Nancy Pelosi to fund the Obama administration for the rest of this year, to fund Obamacare, to fund executive amnesty, to fund Planned Parenthood, to fund implementation of this Iran deal, and then presumably to land a cushy K Street job after joining with the Democrats to implement all of President Obama's priorities, that is not the behavior one would expect from a Republican speaker of the House."
Boehner, 65, who was first elected to Congress in 1990, said that he would resign at the end of October.
The surprise move culminated a Capitol Hill career that included three terms as speaker marred by repeated clashes with conservative Republicans. The current battle is over whether to strip Planned Parenthood of its taxpayer subsidies while funding the government through Dec. 11.
The move by conservatives threatened a shutdown of the federal government. The partial shutdown in 2013 cost taxpayers $1.4 billion.
Boehner cited the continuous rancor among Republicans in his resignation Friday.
"My first job as speaker is to protect the institution," Boehner said in a statement. "It's become clear to me that this prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable harm to the institution."
Boehner said that he originally had planned to leave last year, but the drubbing of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by Virginia political novice Dave Brat prolonged that decision.
"My goal was to leave at the end of this year," the speaker said. "I planned, actually on my birthday, Nov. 17, to announce that I was leaving at the end of the year."
"It's been an honor to serve in this institution."
Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the current majority leader, is the favorite to succeed Boehner.
Florida Rep. Daniel Webster, who received 12 votes when he opposed Boehner for speaker in January, will most likely run, said Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican.
"His pitch is we're going to reform the institution," Massie said.
Webster declined to comment on his intentions. "Today is John Boehner's day," he said.
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said he was not interested in the job. "I don't want it," he said.
"John Boehner has been a great leader of the Republican Party and the House of Representatives," Ryan added. "This was an act of pure selflessness."
"John's decades of service have helped move our country forward, and I deeply value his friendship," he said. "We will miss John, and I am confident our conference will elect leaders who are capable of meeting the challenges our nation faces."
Since first taking the speaker's gavel in 2011, Boehner has presided over a fiercely divided government and has had to beat back many challenges from conservative Republicans.
In recent weeks, he has been under pressure to seek a solution to fund the government through the rest of the year, while conservatives clamored for the defunding of Planned Parenthood — rising another federal shutdown.
Many conservatives wished Boehner well and called for leadership that would move the country forward.
"America is at an incredibly perilous time in our history," said Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert. "We need bold leadership more than ever, and the speaker now has graciously given us that opportunity."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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