Obama Praises John Boehner For His Service Despite 'Disagreements'

Boehner will resign from Congress next month.

President Barack Obama weighed in on House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) resignation Friday, praising him as a "good man" and urging his successor to avoid a government shutdown.

Obama, noting that the resignation took him by surprise, said he spoke to Boehner on the phone after hearing the news.

"John Boehner is a good man," Obama said. "He is a patriot, he cares deeply about the House, an institution in which he has served for a long time, he cares about his constituents and he cares about America."

Obama continued: "We obviously have had a lot of disagreements, and politically we're at different ends of the spectrum, but I will tell you he has always conducted himself with courtesy and civility with me. He has kept his word when he has made a commmitment. He is somebody who has been gracious, and I think maybe most importantly is somebody who understands that in governance, you don't get 100 percent of what you want, but you have to work with people who you disagree with, sometime strongly, in order to do the people's business."

Obama said he would not "prejudge" the next House speaker and what his relationship might be like with him or her, but warned Boehner's future replacement against shutting down the government.

"My hope is there's a recognition on the part of the next speaker, something I think John understood 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 in the United States, you don't invite potential financial crises."   

"There's not weakness in that, that's what government is," he added.

Obama reacted to Boehner's resignation Friday.
Obama reacted to Boehner's resignation Friday.

Obama's remarks came during a press conference at the White House with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is on a week-long visit to the United States. 

When asked further about what he anticipates from a new speaker, Obama said he didn't think there will be a "big shift," but hopes the new leadership has "learned some lessons" from previous budget battles. He added that he hopes Thursday's address by Pope Francis will "continue to permeate Washington for some time to come."

"I would just ask members to really reflect on what his holiness said -- not in the particulars, but in the general proposition that we should be open to each other, that we should not demonize each other," Obama said. "That we should not assume that we have a monopoly on the truth, that we know what's right. That we listen to each other and we show respect and regard for the most vulnerable in our society." 

"[Boehner is] a good man, a reasonable man," he added. "I hope we can get some good things done before he steps down."

Boehner announced Friday he would resign from his speakership and Congress at the end of October amid pressure from conservatives in the GOP caucus. 

"The Speaker believes putting members through prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution," his office said in a statement.

Below, more reactions: 

Politicians React To John Boehner's Resignation