WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said during a press conference on Friday that he was resigning his seat in Congress because he did not want to damage the institution that he leads.
Amid talk that some of his conservative colleagues were trying to oust him from his position, Boehner, who announced that he was resigning Friday morning, said that he did not believe a vote to oust him as speaker would be good for the institution.
"When you're the speaker of the House your number one responsibility is to the institution," he said. "And having a vote like this in the institution I don't think is very healthy."
Boehner had initially planned to retire at the end of 2014 but chose to stay on as speaker after former GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) lost his seat. He said that he planned to announce that he was leaving at the end of this year on November 17, his birthday, but made a last-minute decision to announce his resignation on Friday.
A teary-eyed Boehner dismissed the suggestion that he was being forced out by his colleagues.
"If I wasn't planning on leaving here soon I wouldn't have done this," he said.
Boehner declined to endorse a successor, but he did say that he thought Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the number two Republican in the House, would be an "excellent speaker."
One of Boehner's most emotional moments came when he discussed a private moment at the Capitol that he shared with Pope Francis yesterday. After praising his work, the pope put his hand on Boehner's arm and asked him to "pray for him."
"Who am I to pray for the pope? But I did," Boehner said.
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