House Speaker Boehner ‘Will Be Missed’ By The Jewish Community
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) dropped a bombshell on Friday as he announced he will be stepping down and resigning from Congress in October, ending rocky five years as head of the House of Representatives.
According to the Republican leader, the unexpected retirement of Eric Cantor as Majority Leader, after being defeated in a primary, delayed initial plans to step down last year. “It was my plan to only serve as Speaker until the end of last year, but I stayed on to provide continuity to the Republican Conference and the House,” Boehner said in a statement. “It is my view, however, that prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution. To that end, I will resign the Speakership and my seat in Congress on October 30.
William Daroff, Vice President for Public Policy and Director of the Washington Office of The Jewish Federations of North America, is a personal friend of Mr. Boehner. In a conversation with Jewish Insider, Mr. Daroff said that Boehner’s steadfast leadership and friendship with the Jewish community will definitely be missed. “I first met John Boehner over thirty years ago when he held his first elective office as a Township Trustee,” said Mr. Daroff, an Ohio native. “A few years later, I worked for him as a Page in the Ohio House of Representatives. Speaker Boehner has always been attuned to the interests of the Jewish community – someone we could turn to when we needed assistance, whether it was assistance for social service agencies or help for the non-profit sector, and certainly to strengthen the US-Israel relationship.”
Asked if the Speaker’s unilateral invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu contributed to the tumultuous end of his tenure, Mr. Daroff said Boehner’s departure was likely just an attempt to try and keep a raucous House Republican caucus in shape and “balance the interest of the right-wing caucus with others in the caucus.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) underlined the controversial visit of Netanyahu as one of the highlights in Speaker Boehner’s career. “He has been a dedicated public servant. Most importantly he has been an unwavering ally and supporter of Israel and the pro-Israel agenda,” Executive Director Matt Brooks said in a statement. “This March he proved his strength of leadership by inviting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress regarding this President’s misguided Iran deal and then helped lead the effort in the House this fall to oppose the President’s Iran agreement.”
“He will be missed by all those Americans who believe that there should be no daylight between the United States and our ally Israel,” he added.
Senator Chuck Schumer, the presumptive Democratic Senate leader after Harry Reid’s departure in 2016, decried the circumstances that had led to Speaker Boehner’s surprise announcement. “Speaker John Boehner is a decent, principled conservative man who tried to do the right thing under almost impossible circumstances. He will be missed by Republicans and Democrats alike,” said Mr. Schumer. “Let us hope the Republican majority, which Speaker Boehner played a large role in creating, learns the right lesson from his resignation: to work with Democrats in a constructive way, rather than let a handful of extreme right-wingers dictate his party’s policy.”
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) also had kind words for Boehner.”I have always known John Boehner to be a kind and decent man. As someone who proudly wears my heart on my sleeve, it has always been clear to me that John Boehner is the same way. Despite our policy disagreements, his motivation for public service is evident in his strong commitment to the people of Ohio and this country,” she said in a statement.
Mr. Boehner’s most likely replacement is House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California.