Boehner’s exit gets mixed review in S.C.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio

South Carolina Republicans were cordial in crediting House Speaker John Boehner for his years of service, mostly steering clear of the internal strife that has plagued the GOP under his leadership in recent times.

But Democrat U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn called Boehner’s abrupt exit Friday a missed opportunity, saying the speaker could have used his last bit of political capital to push for meaningful legislation beyond the current gridlock.

“We’re in the governing season now,” said Clyburn, D-Columbia, who suggested a budget bill or something addressing the nation’s transportation or infrastructure woes.

Boehner, R-Ohio, who led the House to an overwhelming GOP majority in 2010, abruptly announced Friday he was resigning from Congress effective at the end of October. The move comes as he has clashed repeatedly with the far right of his own party, especially over spending fights.

One worry that escalated this month was whether there would be a fight next week over shutting down the government once more, this time over funding for Planned Parenthood. But that showdown now is probably less likely to occur.

South Carolina Republicans, meanwhile, gave Boehner credit for what he was able to accomplish. U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-Mount Pleasant, said Boehner should be credited for getting Pope Francis and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Nentanyahu to speak to Congress.

“In fairness, the speaker did many things behind the scenes that did indeed advance the conservative cause,” Sanford said. “In some cases, this was political with individual members. In other cases, it was the ways in which he worked around the president.”

Sanford added, “who could have spoken more forcefully against the Iran nuclear deal than Prime Minister Netanyahu, or against the actions of Planned Parenthood than the Pope?”

Other S.C. Republicans took a similar tone. “I appreciate the many years of service Speaker John Boehner and his wife Debbie have given to Ohio and to the nation, and I respect his difficult decision to step down as speaker of the House — the act of a statesman,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-Lexington.

U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-Spartanburg, added that Boehner “has been nothing but fair to me and particularly supportive of the Select Committee on Benghazi. I am happy that one of his final memories will be watching the pope address an institution the speaker loved and served for many years.”

“He will always have my respect and admiration,” said U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., added “although we didn’t always agree on the solutions, I always respected his commitment to service. I wish him the absolute best in his future endeavors.”

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551