WASHINGTON — The predominantly Democratic Maryland House delegation reacted Friday mostly with generosity to House Speaker John Boehner’s abrupt decision to resign.
The lone Republican in the delegation, Rep. Andy Harris of Cockeysville, did not reveal his preference for Boehner’s successor.
Boehner’s surprising decision came just days before a possible government shutdown, a crisis that the speaker and other GOP leaders were trying to avert.
Even though Harris voted for Boehner for speaker, the Maryland congressman is part of a House faction that has consistently challenged its leader on policy and legislation.
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is widely believed to be the favorite among his colleagues to become the next speaker. However, Harris did not respond to an email inquiry about his preference.
“I look forward to a robust discussion about what our new conservative leadership is going to look like in November,” Harris said in a statement.
Faced with a rebellious group within his party that in the past has threatened to strip him of his title, Boehner announced Friday morning that he will resign from his leadership post and his House seat on Oct. 30.
Maryland Democrats praised their frequent opponent over the past five years, and even sympathized with him.
“Today is a sad day for the House of Representatives,” Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore, said in a press release. “The Republican party is at war with itself, and although an extreme minority of ideologues has won this battle, the American people are losing.”
Rep. John Delaney, D-Potomac, said that although he and Boehner didn’t always agree on policy, he had deep respect for the speaker’s commitment and honesty.
“He has never forgotten his humble roots, he is a man of faith and I am especially grateful for all of his hard work to bring Pope Francis here to address Congress,” Delaney said.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, said in a statement that Boehner was “a true gentleman and a consistent advocate for the enduring American principle that hard work ought to lead to opportunity.”
Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Timonium, and Chris Van Hollen, D-Kensington, thought the tea party never accepted Boehner.
“[The] handwriting was on the wall,” Ruppersberger said in a statement. “The tea party and the Freedom Caucus crowd were out to unseat him as they didn’t feel he represented their interest in the Republican caucus and in his deliberations with the White House and (House Minority Leader Nancy) Pelosi (D-Calif.).”
“His resignation is a sad indication that the tea party wing has taken over the House Republican Conference,” Van Hollen said.
Reps. Donna Edwards, D-Fort Washington, and John Sarbanes, D-Towson, as well as Maryland Democratic Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin declined to comment on Boehner.
(CNS reporters Dylan Reffe, Karen Tang and Sharadha Kalyanam contributed to this story.)