John Boehner is having a tough time standing the heat, and may soon be getting out of the kitchen.
The dominant belief amongst Republicans on Capitol Hill is that the Speaker of the House is likely to step down from his leadership post after the 2014 midterms, according to reporting by the Huffington Post.
"Everybody around him thinks this is his last term,” one member of Boehner’s circle said. Another GOP operative claimed that “the overwhelming, working assumption” within Republican circles is that Boehner won’t run for another term as Speaker in 2014, and a former senior aide to the Speaker said that “I'd be surprised if he did [stay].”
While it’s unusual for anybody in Washington to voluntarily relinquish their power, in some senses it’s surprising that Boehner has even stuck around this long. A veteran of Newt Gingrich’s 1994 House takeover, Boehner is generally seen as a deal-making member of the old guard, constantly struggling to wrangle control of the rabid, no-compromise Tea Party wing that now dominates the House Republican caucus. In the 2011 battle over the debt ceiling, Boehner was reportedly eager to strike a “grand bargain” with President Obama on deficit reduction, only to be thwarted by junior members of his party who refused any deal with the president.
In recent policy battles, Boehner has had to rely on Democrats to pass legislation that the majority of his own party opposed; this technique is known as “breaking the Hastert Rule” (a misnomer, as it’s not a “rule” per se but rather an informal practice) and is generally considered taboo for House Speakers. He might do this again with regard to the Syrian war resolution, which would undoubtedly further enrage the members of his caucus who only barely reelected him as Speaker last time around.
Another consideration: Boehner, who’s known to enjoy his downtime, is 63 years old, and may simply want to relax.
"He has a pretty healthy perspective on life," a GOP operative said. "He likes to golf, he likes to travel. You have limited time left once you get close to 70."
Boehner and his team are denying that he’ll be stepping down, which, to be fair, is still precisely what you’d expect them to do if the Speaker was planning on stepping down.
“He has to say that,” one of the members of Boehner’s circle said. “He can't not say that. The minute you say [you're leaving], you're done.”
If Boehner were to step aside as Speaker, the most obvious choice to fill the void would be House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who’s seen as having a better relationship with Tea Partiers in his caucus.