This post has been updated.
After House Speaker John Boehner announced on Friday that he would step down from his leadership role and resign from Congress at the end of October, conservatives who have long criticized him were quick to celebrate his decision to leave the House.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Boehner’s nemesis in the Senate, seemed smug when commenting on the speaker’s resignation on Friday.
Ted Cruz on Boehner resignation: “I have long called on Republican leadership to do something unusual, which is lead.”
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) September 25, 2015
From the basement of the Tortilla Coast, a Capitol Hill dive where Cruz notoriously met with House GOP opponents of Boehner, Cruz has taken the unusual step of opposing a top Republican in the opposite chamber. Most recently he helped lead the push in Congress to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Boehner was under immense pressure to both defund Planned Parenthood and avert a government shutdown as conservative members of the House Republican conference threatened to remove him from leadership.
The conservative Heritage Foundation’s political arm on Friday applauded the speaker’s decision, noting that Boehner “stood in the way” of conservatives.
“Today’s announcement is a sign that the voice of the American people is breaking through in Washington. Now is the time for a principled, conservative leader to emerge,” Heritage CEO Michael Needham said in a statement.
In an op-ed for the Independent Journal Review, Red State’s Erick Erickson said that Boehner had “increasingly marginalized conservatives.”
“Boehner’s problem is that he held more and more of his own party in the House in contempt. In the end, it wasn’t just the conservatives who felt shut out and unable to do business with Boehner. Everyone else did to. So Boehner had to go,” Erickson wrote.
Conservative groups like Gun Owners of America and FreedomWorks applauded their supporters’ efforts to oppose Boehner.
— GunOwnersofAmerica (@GunOwners) September 25, 2015
Thank you, FreedomWorks activists! pic.twitter.com/uIkyd6GJKB
— FreedomWorks (@FreedomWorks) September 25, 2015
FreedomWorks CEO Adam Brandon said in a statement that Boehner’s decision to step down is “a huge victory for the House Freedom Caucus.”
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) one of the House members who has pledged not to vote for a bill that includes funding for Planned Parenthood, marked Boehner’s decision as a loss for the “establishment.”
Today the establishment lost. #Boehner
— Cong. Tim Huelskamp (@CongHuelskamp) September 25, 2015
Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), who ran for speaker in January as part of an attempt to oust Boehner, did not hide his excitement about Boehner’s resignation on Friday.
“I am really excited and ecstatic about this,” he told The Gainesville Sun. “It couldn’t be a better day politically for us.”
Former Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) also celebrated Boehner’s resignation.
— Steve Stockman (@SteveWorks4You) September 25, 2015
Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, on Friday called for a leader in the House who will fight to defund Planned Parenthood.
“American voters who put the Republican Party into the majority have grown weary of GOP leaders running into these political battles waving a white flag.” Perkins said. “If Republicans will not fight to end taxpayer funding for an organization that is trafficking in baby body parts, and possibly infanticide, what will they fight for? We welcome Republican leadership that understands that some values, like life, religious liberty and national defense are worth fighting for – no matter what.”
When Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announced Boehner’s resignation at the conservative Values Voter Summit on Friday, the crowd cheered.
“I’m not here to today bash anyone, but the time has come to turn the page and allow new leadership in this country,” Rubio said.
Donald Trump told reporters on Friday that Boehner’s resignation is “wonderful.”
“I think it’s wonderful, frankly” Trump told me of Boehner
— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) September 25, 2015
Trump on Boehner resigning: “I think it’s good. It’s time.”
— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) September 25, 2015
Trump on Boehner: I think it’s time. I think it’s a good thing and I think someone else will have a little bit tougher attitude.
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) September 25, 2015
As many of Boehner’s enemies rejoiced after his announcement, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who introduced a resolution to remove Boehner from his speakership in July, issued a statement praising the speaker’s efforts.
“Speaker Boehner has served honorably during a difficult time for Republicans when the threat of a veto from the White House constantly impedes our legislative agenda,” Meadows said in a statement. “At times I differed with Speaker Boehner on policy or procedural positions, but I commend him for his honorable service, his humility, his undeniable love for his country and his desire to serve this great nation.”
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) lamented on Friday that the “crazies” defeated Boehner.
Rep. Peter King on Boehner retirement: “To me, this is a victory for the crazies “
— John Bresnahan (@BresPolitico) September 25, 2015
Photo illustration by Christine Frapech; photo credit: AP