John Boehner Leaves Congress With 'No Regrets'

House infighting had nearly thrown off his target date.

ByABC News
October 29, 2015, 9:42 AM

— -- House Speaker John Boehner is finally leaving Congress.

"I leave the way I started, just a regular guy humbled by the chance to do a big job," Boehner said today, addressing the House chamber with a box of tissues at his side.

Boehner, who said he was proud of his record banning earmarks, preserving Bush-era tax cuts and securing trillions in spending reductions, told House members reforms don't come easily.

"Real change takes time," he said. “Yes, freedom makes all things possible, but patience makes all things real."

Boehner's exit comes roughly a month after announcing his retirement. He was under pressure from conservatives who were unhappy with his management style and leadership.

His plans to retire at the end of October were almost jeopardized by Republicans' inability to agree upon his successor.

While House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was the initial front-runner, his comments linking the House Select Committee on Benghazi's work to Hillary Clinton's presidential poll numbers and resistance to his campaign from hardliners eventually led him to drop out of the race.

Facing a free-for-all speaker race with more than a dozen candidates ready to run, Boehner, McCarthy and other Republicans increasingly leaned on Rep. Paul Ryan, (R-WI), the former Republican presidential candidate, to serve as speaker.

Ryan, who already had his dream job as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, decided to pursue the job he never wanted after consulting with his family and getting most Republicans to endorse him and agree to his conditions of service.

Boehner has said Ryan, who is expected to win the House speaker vote on the floor today, has the ability to unite fractured House Republicans.

"I know he'll serve with grace and energy," Boehner today said of Ryan, adding that Ryan campaigned for him as a college student at Miami University in Ohio in the 1990s.

In one of his final acts, Boehner made the next speaker's life significantly easier by "cleaning out the barn": hammering out a two-year, $80 billion budget agreement with the White House that will avert a government default and minimize the risk of a shutdown in December.

Boehner, 65, cast his last vote in Congress for the measure Wednesday night, joining a minority of Republicans and almost every Democrat to send the bill to the Senate.

He left the Capitol Thursday with little fanfare.

"Alright boys, it's that time," he said before walking out a side door, bantering with Capitol Police officers on the way out.

Boehner, who has worked continuously since slinging newspapers and working at his father's bar as a nine year old, plans to fly home to Ohio Friday.