Eliza Newlin Carney and Kate Ackley, Roll Call:
In a testament to the deep divide between the business and tea party wings of the Republican Party, the news of Speaker John A. Boehner‘s pending departure left K Street lobbyists reeling and conservative activists jubilant.
For tea party organizers at the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and Heritage Action for America, Boehner’s announced resignation from both his leadership post and his House seat caps a multi-year ideological war with the speaker and his allies over issues ranging from the debt ceiling to immigration, health care, the Export-Import Bank and most recently Planned Parenthood.
“The big takeaway is that the next speaker is going to have to be somebody who has deep respect for the conservative base of the party,” said Heritage Action for America spokesman Dan Holler. “The party can’t be seen as being cozy with Wall Street, being cozy with K Street, doing the bidding of Boeing and GE.”
Many K Streeters, by contrast, said they were shocked, if not surprised, by Boehner’s news, and voiced anxiety over what comes next. Business leaders have lost key policy battles over immigration and the Ex-Im Bank; have rallied behind former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the presidential race only to see him trail in the polls; and now face the prospect of yet another government shutdown.
“To some degree, it’s a setback, and you’ve already seen the John Boehner haters out there,” said Marc Lampkin, a partner at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and a former Boehner aide. In a world where Donald Trump is a top contender for the GOP nomination and where “more and more people worship at the altar of Rush [Limbaugh], this only gives them greater impetus to be defiant and to run against, in many respects, common sense.”