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Kentucky Congressional Members Express Pleasure, Anxiety Over Boehner's Departure

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The White House
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Kentucky's congressional delegation members are expressing a mix of sentiments — from pleasure to anxiety — over House Speaker John Boehner's surprising announcement that he's leaving Congress.

Boehner surprised Washington on Friday when he announced he was resigning at the end of October. Throughout his tenure as speaker, Boehner had been under scrutiny from deeply conservative members for his efforts to broker deals with Democrats on the budget and other issues.

On Friday, Boehner told reporters that he always planned to leave the U.S. House of Representatives this year.

“It’s the right time to do it, and I am entirely comfortable doing it,” he said.

Boehner was also facing a vote that could have ousted him. Conservative members of his party have continued to be frustrated with him — including a Kentucky Republican congressman.

Rep. Thomas Massie, whose district stretches from Northern Kentucky to eastern Jefferson County, told the Associated Press he believes Boehner brought his hardships onto himself and that it's "time for new leadership."

Massie could not be reached early Friday afternoon for further comment.

Boehner's congressional district is in the Cincinnati area, just across the Ohio River from Massie's.

In a released statement, Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-2nd, said he appreciated Boehner's service. He added: “I am confident that the new House Republican leadership team will guide our Conference to tackle the pressing issues before our country.

The lone Democrat in Kentucky's federal delegation was not so confident. Rep. John Yarmuth said he's worried about who might replace Boehner.

“This might actually embolden the Freedom Caucus members who think they were responsible for deposing him,” said Yarmuth, referring to his deeply conservative House colleagues.

He said this could mean more dysfunction in the future.

“I worry about who the next speaker would be and the next leadership team, and whether they are going to be able to contribute to a more functional Congress or not,” Yarmuth said. “I am afraid that it could get worse.”

The sense of a fracture among Kentucky Republicans showed in the statements from the state's senators.

On the presidential campaign trail, Sen. Rand Paul said this happened because “people are frustrated.”

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, himself an occasional target of Republicans associated with the Tea Party movement, offered praise. "Speaker Boehner was able to transform a broken and dispirited Republican minority into the largest Republican majority since the 1920s," he said.

Across the Ohio River, Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind., said in a statement that he thinks Boehner's departure is an opportunity for conservatives.

"As we begin the process of deciding a new Speaker of the House, I look forward to electing someone who can not only articulate conservative principles, but has the wherewithal to effectively advance them," said Young, who is running for U.S. Senate next year.

(Featured image by Pete Souza/White House)

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