The abrupt resignation of House Speaker John Boehner shows that “the crazies have taken over the party,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said Friday.
“I think it signals the crazies have taken over the party, taken over to the party that you can remove a speaker of the House who’s second in line to be president, a constitutional officer in the middle of his term with no allegations of impropriety, a person who’s honest and doing his job. This has never happened before in our country," King said in an interview on CNN. "He could have stayed on.”
King praised Boehner, who told House Republicans at a Friday morning meeting that he would step down in October, for doing an “outstanding job.”
Boehner’s resignation came amid intense pressure from extreme conservative members to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood, even at the cost of shutting down the government. Several times during his four-and-a-half-year tenure as speaker, Boehner has found his room to maneuver severely curtailed by his conservative wing, which opposes virtually all efforts to negotiate with the White House.
King accused conservative members of the GOP caucus of trying to "hijack and blackmail the party,” and argued that Boehner’s decision would only embolden them.
“They’re not going to see it as a gesture of peace, they’re going to just look for more,” King said. Indeed, one House conservative said Friday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is the "next guy in the crosshairs."
King, a national security hawk who has pushed for tough anti-terrorism policies, urged Boehner’s successor to stand up to conservative members, suggesting that backing down would constitute “appeasement.”
“I think whoever runs for speaker should make it clear that he’s not going to give in to these people,” King said. “The time for appeasement is over.”
House Majority Kevin McCarthy is widely seen as the most likely person to take over Boehner’s job, though he enjoys little more support than Boehner among grassroots conservatives.