In a stunning move, House Speaker John Boehner informed Republicans that he would step down at the end of October.
Rep. John Mica said Friday that Boehner "just does not want to become the issue. Some people have tried to make him the issue both in Congress and outside."
Boehner, 65, took over the speakership in January 2011.
A Boehner aide told NBC News that the Speaker "believes putting members through prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution. He is proud of what this majority has accomplished, and his Speakership, but for the good of the Republican Conference and the institution, he will resign the Speakership and his seat in Congress, effective October 30."
According to NBC News, "Boehner has been under prolonged pressure from conservatives in his party, who have accused him of failing to fight the Obama administration on issues important to the GOP." MORE
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A focus of conservatives' complaints, Boehner "just does not want to become the issue," said Rep. John Mica, R-Fla. "Some people have tried to make him the issue both in Congress and outside," Mica said.
Conservatives have demanded that any legislation to keep the government operating past next Wednesday's deadline strip Planned Parenthood of government funds, an argument rejected by the more pragmatic lawmakers. The dispute has threatened Boehner's speakership and roiled the GOP caucus.
Some conservatives welcomed his announcement.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas said "it's time for new leadership," and Rep. Tom Massie of Kentucky said the speaker "subverted our Republic."
"I think it was inevitable," Massie said. "This is a condition of his own making right here."
But more mainstream Republicans said it would be a pyrrhic victory for the tea partyers.
"The honor of John Boehner this morning stands in stark contrast to the idiocy of those members who seek to continually divide us," said Rep. David Jolly of Florida.
- He was born on November 17, 1949 in Reading, Ohio
- He represents Ohio's 8th District
- Boehner was first elected to the House in 1990 and soon established a strongly conservative record.
- He won a 2006 race to succeed Tom DeLay as the House's No. 2 Republican when DeLay stepped aside as majority leader.
- He took over as the top Republican in the House in 2007 after Democrats retook the chamber
- In 2013, conservatives drove him to reluctantly embrace a partial government shutdown in hopes of delaying implementation of the new health care law.
"The shutdown caucus, as I call them, has a small victory," Jolly said.
Boehner's decision removes the possibility of a damaging vote to strip him of his speakership, a scenario that grew more likely amid the conservative clamor over a shutdown.
As speaker, his tenure has been defined by his early struggles to reach budget agreements with President Barack Obama and his wrestling with the expectations of tea party conservatives who demanded a more confrontational approach.