One day, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner was at the top of the world with Pope Francis speaking to a joint meeting of Congress after 20 years of the Ohio Republican asking pontiffs do to that.
The next day, Boehner resigned, effective in a month, surprising House members of both major parties.
“Speaker Boehner has a long record of dedicated leadership and I am shocked and saddened by his decision,” Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., said shortly after the decision became public. “His announcement today is a selfless act and Speaker Boehner wanted to do what’s best for this institution and the country.”
Many think Boehner stepped down so he could negotiate a budget deal with Democrats before Thursday, the first day of the new federal fiscal year.
President Barack Obama set the tone for reaction to the news when he praised Boehner for being a “good man” with the interest of the country his priority.
Thirty conservatives within his own party were pressuring Boehner to accept a government shutdown if they did not get what they want in spending bills for a budget to begin Oct. 1.
“It’s become clear to me this prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable harm to the institution,” Boehner told a news conference. “It’s the right time to do it and, frankly, I’m entirely comfortable doing it.”
On Thursday evening as Boehner left the Capitol, he told two reporters — one from Politico and another from the Washington Post — that he had nothing left to accomplish after bringing Pope Francis to the Capitol, Politico reported.
“The resignation of U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner is a snapshot of what politics means to the Tea Party and the far right wing: partisanship at any cost,” Minnesota DFL Chairman Ken Martin said. “Boehner wanted to govern and avoid a government shutdown and he’s paid the price with his career as a public servant.”
U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., often has said that Boehner tries to do the right things, but like Martin, the veteran congressman bemoans the fact that the extremely conservative wing of the Republican Party will not compromise.
Another Minnesota Democrat, Rep. Tim Walz, said he could work with Boehner. “I believe Congress needs more people willing to work across the aisle, not less. At his core, Speaker Boehner believes in the promise of America and has served this institution with dignity for more than two decades.”
Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., said the speaker “should be commended for his tireless dedication to his constituents in Ohio and to the American people as a whole.”
Kline, whose name quickly surfaced as a possible short-term speaker, is the closest to Boehner of anyone in the Minnesota congressional delegation.
“He was one of the gang of seven which uncovered the House bank scandal almost 25 years ago,” said Kline, who is not running for re-election next year. “He was a trailblazer in efforts to rid Congress of pork-barrel spending and I am proud we stood together to ban earmarks from the House.”
Electronic filing comes
Minnesota courts will accept electronic files in all 87 counties by year’s end.
A plan just released by the state judicial branch expands to all courts the ability to accept documents by an online portal, as well as serving documents to opposing parties electronically. The change allows those dealing with court to file documents without going to a courthouse.
“The eCourtMN Initiative is the largest transformation in the 150-year history of Minnesota’s Judicial Branch,” Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea said. “This initiative will produce new efficiencies in our justice system and increase on-demand access to information for the public and our justice partners.”
The electronic system is used in Cass, Clay, Cook, Dakota, Faribault, Hennepin, Kandiyohi, Lake, Morrison, Ramsey and Washington now as part of a pilot project to get the bugs worked out.
Broadband money sought
Forty-four entities have asked for state money to expand broadband high-speed Internet in rural areas.
Those applications seek $29 million, but just $10.6 million is available.
“With grant requests nearly triple the available funding, it’s clear that the need for investment in rural broadband access is significant,” Lt. Gov. Tina Smith said. “The $10.58 million available this year is a start, but it’s essential that the Legislature provide sufficient funding next session.”