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After The Pope's Visit, Boehner Decides 'Today's The Day To Do This'

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

John Boehner says he woke up this morning, a day after the pope's historic address to Congress, said his prayers and decided today's the day to do this.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Do this, meaning resign. Next month, Boehner will step down as speaker and leave Congress. John Boehner has had a tumultuous four-and-a-half years with the gavel. This summer, some of the most conservative members of his caucus openly talked of a coup.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN BOEHNER: It's become clear to me that this prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable harm to the institution. So this morning, I informed my colleagues that I would resign from the speakership and resign from Congress at the end of October.

MCEVERS: In a moment, we'll hear from one member who's been unhappy with Boehner's leadership for years. Today, the speaker brushed off the notion he was at risk of being toppled and said he looked forward to the time he has left in the House.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BOEHNER: I'm going to be here for another five weeks, and I'm not going to leave. I'm not going to sit around here and do nothing for the next 30 days. There's a lot of work that needs to be done, and I plan on getting as much of it done as I can before I exit.

SHAPIRO: At the White House, President Obama called Boehner a good man, a patriot, someone who cares about America.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BARACK OBAMA: My hope is there's a recognition on the part of the next speaker - something I think John understood even though, at times, it was challenging to bring his caucus along - that we can have significant differences on issues, but that doesn't mean you shut down the government. That doesn't mean you risk the full faith and credit of the United States.

SHAPIRO: And the president added, when you have divided government, when you have a democracy, compromise is necessary. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.
Kelly McEvers is a two-time Peabody Award-winning journalist and former host of NPR's flagship newsmagazine, All Things Considered. She spent much of her career as an international correspondent, reporting from Asia, the former Soviet Union, and the Middle East. She is the creator and host of the acclaimed Embedded podcast, a documentary show that goes to hard places to make sense of the news. She began her career as a newspaper reporter in Chicago.