The Latest News from John Boehner

15 May, 2016

Speaker Boehner Addresses Notre Dame Commencement, Accepts Laetare Medal with Vice President Biden

May 15, 2016

SOUTH BEND, IN — Former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today addressed the commencement ceremony of the University of Notre Dame and gave brief remarks to graduates in accepting the university’s Laetare Medal, awarded jointly this year to Boehner and Vice President Joe Biden.  Speaker Boehner’s remarks (as prepared) are below:

Father Jenkins, Vice President Biden, graduates…I’m truly honored and privileged to be standing here today – just a regular guy who used to have a big job. 

It’s been six months now since I left public service. That’s given me some time to reflect. 

And something occurred to me a few months ago about the nature of the difficult task we call governing:

Governing is the art of the possible.

Politicians are constantly being pushed to promise the impossible. And this being a presidential election year, you’ve been hearing a lot of impossible promises.

But governing isn’t about doing the impossible. Governing, at its essence, is the art of the possible. 

Governing requires us to look for common ground where it can be found – without compromising on our principles. 

As Speaker, I always drew a distinction between “compromise” and “common ground,” because I truly believe they are two different things.

My greatest worry about our system is that we will lose the ability to distinguish between the two. 

The fact of the matter is, you can find common ground with the other side without compromising on your principles and core beliefs.

Our democracy, in fact, requires it from time to time.

And our system of government would break down completely if not for people on both sides of the fence who understand that distinction.

Ladies and gentlemen, Vice President Joe Biden is one of those people. 

Joe and I disagreed on many things during my time in office. Make no mistake about it. 

But even as we disagreed, we always understood the need to keep looking for the things we could agree on.

Mr. Vice President, it’s an honor to share a stage with you again, my friend.

It was almost eight months ago, Joe, that you and I were seated together in the House chamber behind His Holiness, Pope Francis, for the first address ever by a Pope to a Joint Meeting of the United States Congress. 

I tried for more than 20 years to bring a Pope to the U.S. Capitol.

They said it couldn’t be done; he’s not just a head of state, but the head of a Church.  It’s too controversial.

My view was that America could handle it.  And things worked out pretty well. 

As many know, that day also turned out to be the way I closed the book on my speakership and a nearly 25-year run in the U.S. House.

I had already decided I was leaving, but as I recognized only in retrospect, the Holy Spirit, working through Pope Francis, gave me the grace, strength and serenity to proceed with the plan. 

I saw an opportunity to announce my departure in a manner that honored my roots, my upbringing, and my Faith. 

If that isn’t going out on your own terms, I don’t know what is.

And in the 7-8 months since then, I’ve realized what a blessing it was personally, to be able to leave with the peace of mind and confidence that I was doing the Lord’s will. 

“Laetare” means “rejoice.”  There’s really no better word for it.  That’s exactly what I’ve been doing ever since I left the House. . .rejoicing! 

This day really isn’t about me, or Joe.  It’s about the students who today take their final steps as students of this university, and their first steps on the journey that will be the rest of their lives. 

This your day.  We celebrate you, and the remarkable things you’ve achieved, and the awesome things you have the potential to achieve in the future. 

As you begin this journey, recognize that there’s a difference between deciding who you want to be versus what you want to do. 

Career decisions are things you can only grapple with over time.   Character decisions are something you can make right now. 

It’s impossible for you to know what opportunities may present themselves as you travel the roads of your life. 

I certainly didn’t see serving in Congress or becoming Speaker of the House coming when I was working in my dad’s bar, or sweeping up floors as a janitor while I was working to pay my way through college.

But when I walked out of the U.S. Capitol for the last time as speaker, on October 30, 2015, I walked out as pretty much the same guy who walked in the door 25 years earlier.  For better or for worse!

You don’t have to decide what you want to do, but it’s never too early to commit yourself to what you truly believe.

 In fact, it’s far more important to figure out who you want to be.  You can’t possibly predict everything that lies ahead on the journey of life but you can decide now what kind of person you’re going to be and remain.  

I know what I believe: it doesn’t cost anything to be nice. It doesn’t do any good to carry grudges.  It’s always better to be honest with people. 

I knew these things in my own heart long before I embarked on the journey of public service.

Your identity is forged not by what you choose to do, but by how you choose to live your life.

The University of Notre Dame, has witnessed and weathered many changes.

Its very name honors the Blessed Mother.

Its motto is Vita Dulcedo Spes = life, sweetness, hope.  As in “Mary, our life, our sweetness, our hope,” from the Salve Regina prayer offered in the Rosary.

At its very founding, a choice was made to devote this institution to Our Lady.  

This school would go on to become one of the most decorated and respected institutions of higher learning our country.  But the core of its unique, special identity was forged even before then.

I would urge that you cherish this identity, and make absolutely no apologies for bringing it to bear in our world as a force for hope, freedom, and life

The University of Notre Dame has never been “just a school.” There are a thousand reasons for this, but they all trace back ultimately to the foundation upon which it was built.

It’s who you are, versus what you do.

Whether we’re talking about a person or an institution, staying true to yourself and what you set out to be is vital.  At the end of the day, it’s what matters most. 

It’s possible to find common ground without compromising on your core beliefs.

What matters most is that we know who we are, and stick to it, no matter where the roads of our life’s journey might take us.

Thank you, graduates, for the privilege of joining you on this day.

I know the Vice President joins me in saying: these medals may dangle from our necks, but this day – this glorious day – is yours.

Thank you, and God Bless You all.

12 May, 2016

Statement by Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on Obamacare Court Ruling

May 12, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today issued the following statement regarding a ruling announced today by a federal district court in the lawsuit filed by the U.S. House of Representatives regarding unilateral actions taken by the Obama Administration in implementing the president’s health care law:

 “This decision is a victory for the American people, and for House Republicans, who have consistently stood for the rule of law and against the unconstitutional actions taken by the Obama Administration. In the implementation of the health care law and many other significant matters, the Obama Administration has engaged in historic overreach that has exceeded the bounds of the president’s authority and deepened the distrust many Americans feel toward their government.  The president of the United States is not a king or a monarch, with the ability to singlehandedly create or change the laws of our country.  And as I said in 2014 when I first announced that the we would initiate this legal action, the House has a responsibility to ensure the separation of powers in our democratic system remains clear, as the Framers intended.” 

For a timeline of the events that led to today’s court ruling, courtesy of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), go here.

# # # # #

6 March, 2016

Statement by Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on Passing of Former First Lady Nancy Reagan

March 6, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today issued the following statement in reaction to the news of the passing of former First Lady Nancy Reagan:

Debbie and I are saddened by Mrs. Reagan’s passing, but we take comfort in the knowledge that she and President Reagan are together again.  

“President Reagan was famous for his smile, and Nancy was usually the reason he was smiling.  During her husband’s presidency and the difficult years that followed, Nancy Reagan was a rock of strength and unconditional love, and a leader in her own right on matters close to her heart.  

“One of the great privileges of my days in the House leadership was the opportunity to escort Mrs. Reagan at the unveiling of the statue of her late husband in the United States Capitol.  I witnessed that day the love she felt for America and all she and President Reagan had sacrificed to achieve during their years of public service, and it made a profound impression on me that I carried through the rest of my own time in office.

“May they now both rest in peace in God’s loving arms, reunited for eternity.”

26 February, 2016

Next President Must Right Wrongs of Iran Nuclear Deal, Boehner Says

February 26, 2016

A Non-Nuclear Iran Can Only Be Attained Through Strength, Former Speaker Says

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In his first major foreign policy and natural security remarks since leaving office, former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today said the U.S. government must stand with the people of Iran and not with the radical regime that has oppressed them for decades while sponsoring terrorist aggression throughout the world. 

“The dream of a democratic, secular, non-nuclear Iran cannot be attained through the appeasement of a regime that oppresses its own people,” Boehner said in remarks to the U.S. Foundation for Liberty.  “The transformation of the regime in Iran is only achievable through strength: a strong and resolute stance by the United States and the free world.”

Boehner blasted the Iran nuclear deal that was rammed through last year by President Obama over the objections of a bipartisan majority in Congress, saying the administration’s actions in the months since he left office have only confirmed his worst fears about the agreement.

The former speaker upped the ante on questions raised earlier this month by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), challenging the White House to explain why a surprise $1.7 billion payment was given earlier this month to the Iranian regime, rather than to American victims of terrorism linked to the government in Tehran.

“There are Americans who have longstanding claims at the Hague as well. . .Americans who are victims of the terrorism sponsored by the Iranian regime, who’ve been awarded judgements against Iran,” Boehner noted.  “Why would we transfer this money to the terrorist-sponsoring regime in Iran instead of compensating these American victims? 

“This is the United States of America.  We don’t stand with tyrants.  We stand up to tyrants.  It’s the way this great nation was born,” Boehner said.

“I hope and pray that the next president of the United States will right these wrongs and send this message loudly and unequivocally to people throughout the world,” the former speaker continued.  “It’s a message that must be heard everywhere – from the corridors of power here in Washington, to the streets of Tehran – and backed by the concrete will of a strong president with the confidence of the American people.” 

The full text of former Speaker Boehner’s remarks as prepared appears below.

# # # # #

FEBRUARY 26, 2016

Thank you to the U.S. Foundation for Liberty for organizing this event to help educate the American people about the threats posed by the Iranian regime, and options to stop them.

And a special thanks to all the Members of the Iranian American community who are here today because you’re committed to the vision of a democratic, secular, non-nuclear Iran.

I’ve been a private citizen now for almost four months, after being in the U.S. House of Representatives for nearly a quarter century.  

Many assume I’ve spent most of the past four months playing golf. 

Well, yes, I’ll admit, I’ve played a little golf, and yes, I suppose you can say I’ve made up for some lost time. 

But you know, when you get down to it, life is really about finding balance.  And I’ve found a nice balance: having fun, getting acquainted with becoming a grandfather, doing some travel; but also doing some speeches, and some events for my former colleagues.

On the day I announced my departure, I rolled up to the podium in the House Radio & TV Gallery singing “Zip a Dee Doo Da.”

I’d been planning my exit for a while, and hey, I’ll admit it: it felt pretty good to be liberated. 

But the fact of the matter is, there are also a lot of things I care deeply about and will never stop caring about, whether I’m in office or not.

One of those things is the security of our nation, and the world, in the face of the global threat we know as international terrorism. 

When I was speaker, I got a special glimpse of hell.  I’m talking about the threat of a global enemy that seeks to destroy innocent life for the purpose of supporting its own violent, radicalized goals. 

All of America saw it up close 14 years ago, in the attacks on this city and the World Trade Center in which thousands of our countrymen lost their lives.

As speaker, I learned everything I could about the nature of this threat – a threat that has grown in the 14 years since 9/11

I saw the threat from many different angles as speaker: through conversations with people at home and abroad; through security briefings; through interactions I was privileged to have with the leaders of other nations.

Once you’ve gotten a glimpse of the true nature of this global enemy, you don’t forget it.  It stays with you.  It follows you everywhere.  

And I’m sorry to say it’s a global enemy that we, the United States of America, are effectively bankrolling at this very moment through the misguided policies of the current administration.

I spoke out against this as speaker of the House.  Repeatedly.  And I will continue to speak out against it now as a private citizen of the United States.

And so I’m deeply honored that you’ve asked me to deliver the keynote address for this important event at this critical time.

This is an important event.  There’s a message that the citizens of both countries – the United States, and Iran – need to hear.  

The American people need to be reminded about the nature of the threat posed to the world by the regime in Iran. . .a regime that, in spite of the “deal” brokered by the current administration, continues to pursue its nuclear ambitions, and continues to finance terrorist activity. 

The Iranian people need to hear a message as well.  They need to hear that the people of the United States stand with them – not with the regime that for decades has oppressed them, stifled their liberties, and crushed their dreams. 

The people of Iran – the victims of the Iranian regime – need to hear that the United States stands with them.  Sadly, for the past eight years, they’ve heard the opposite message from our government.

It’s a message amplified and underscored, tragically, by the flawed nuclear agreement reached between President Obama and the Iranian regime.

Never in the history of our country has something with so many consequences for our national security been rammed through with such little support. 

It’s a deal that rewards the Iranian regime with sanctions relief while allowing it to stay on a path to develop a nuclear weapon. 

Let’s stop for a moment and think about who the government of United States of America – the mightiest nation on Earth; the beacon of liberty shining throughout the world – has struck a deal with. 

This is a regime that is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. 

This is a regime propped up by quote-unquote “elections” in which all of the candidates are vetted in advance by a panel appointed by the Supreme Leader – and anybody who doesn’t swear allegiance to the supreme leader and “the Islamic Republic” is thrown out.  

This is a regime that will use its windfall of new money to threaten its neighbors and support terror networks that are a direct threat to the American people and our allies.  

This is a regime shielded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which is led by military officers linked to human rights violations and terrorism, who have supplied militants with weapons intended to kill Americans. 

This the same Revolutionary Guard that, it was reported this week, is in the advanced stages of planning a terror attack on passenger planes in Southeast Asia. 

For years we have also seen a steady stream of evidence to indicate that the terrorist-sponsoring regime in Tehran is working hard to establish a foothold in the Western Hemisphere, on the doorstep of the United States.

Evidence was presented to Congress as recently as last year showing the Iranian regime is advising troublemakers in Latin America on its proven methods of stifling civilian dissent and financing oppressive paramilitary forces. 

I led a congressional mission to South America in 2012.  During that journey, my colleagues and I heard repeatedly about efforts by Iran to create an economic and strategic partnership with Venezuela and other rogue nations. . .a partnership aimed at establishing a stronghold for Iranian influence in the West. 

Last summer, Venezuela signed a pact that formally established an economic partnership with the Iranian regime.

There is little question that the Iranian regime seeks use the resources of  this partnership to bankroll both its nuclear ambitious and its sponsorship of terrorist activity throughout the globe.

Incredibly, tragically, the Obama administration chose to cut a deal with this regime – legitimizing it, emboldening it, empowering it. . .supplying it with the financial and political oxygen it needs to not only survive, but thrive in a rapidly-changing world. 

It’s bad enough for the United States to have the wrong policy when things are confusing; when it’s hard to tell the right side from the wrong side.  It’s even worse for the United States to have the wrong policy when things are crystal clear.

In pursuing the deal with Iran, President Obama refused to listen.  He ignored the concerns of the American people, national security experts, and a bipartisan majority in the Congress.  

Americans were promised that the deal would be built on verification. 

Well, the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO) just this week is out with a study that documents “potential challenges in monitoring and verifying Iran’s implementation of certain nuclear-related commitments.”

These are the kinds of details it might have been helpful to have before the agreement was forced upon America, and the world. 

As I said on the House floor in September: it’s such a bad deal, the ayatollah won’t even have to cheat to be just steps away from a nuclear weapon.

Americans were also promised the deal would address Iran’s status as the world’s leading sponsor of terror. 

But the deal hands Iran billions to support additional terrorist activities, and provides relief to the “shadow commander” responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American troops in Iraq.  

I wish I could say my concerns have eased somewhat since leaving office, but I’m afraid I can’t. 

As the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, my friend Ed Royce of California, noted last month:

Just hours after the agreement’s implementation, the regime disqualified 2,967 of roughly 3,000 moderate candidates from running in the parliamentary elections.

The Iranian regime also conducted missile tests this winter in open defiance of the United States — an act of defiance that drew little more than a helpless shrug from the Obama administration. 

Then Iran’s president directed his generals to accelerate its intercontinental missile program – a program aimed, ultimately, at striking the United States. 

And just weeks ago, the Obama administration announced what appears to be a $1.7 billion ransom payment to the Iranian regime, coming on the same day four American political prisoners were released. 

While we clearly welcome the release of these Americans, there are huge questions about it that have gone unanswered.

The administration indicates this $1.7 billion payment was made to resolve a longstanding Iranian claim made through the “Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal,” based in The Hague.

I’ve got a question for the administration. 

There are Americans who have longstanding claims at the Hague as well. . .Americans who are victims of the terrorism sponsored by the Iranian regime, who’ve been awarded judgements against Iran.  

With all due respect: why in the world would we transfer this money to the terrorist-sponsoring regime in Iran instead of compensating these American victims? 

Chairman Royce has asked this question, and the Administration owes the American people some answers. 

Real change in Iran cannot be achieved through billion-dollar payouts and one-sided deals. 

The dream of a democratic, secular, non-nuclear Iran cannot be attained through the appeasement of a regime that oppresses its own people.

The transformation of the regime in Iran is only achievable through strength: a strong and resolute stance by the United States and the free world. 

This is the United States of America.  We don’t stand with tyrants.  We stand up to tyrants!  It’s the way this great nation was born.

I hope and pray that the next president of the United States will right these wrongs and send this message loudly and unequivocally to people throughout the world. 

It’s a message that must be heard everywhere – from the corridors of power here in Washington, to the streets of Tehran – and backed by the concrete will of a strong president with the confidence of the American people. 

I’m grateful for the chance to be with you today.  I look forward to your questions. 

2 February, 2016

Statement from Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on Passing of Middletown’s Richard Slagle

February 2, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today issued the following statement on the passing of longtime friend, mentor and community leader Richard “Dick” Slagle of Middletown, OH:

 “Dick Slagle was a giant of a man whose impact on the Middletown region will be evident for generations to come.  His spirit was as strong as the wood of the gavel he fashioned for me as I prepared to become Speaker.  That gavel was by my side through my speakership as a source of confidence and strength – the gift of a teacher, a mentor, and a true friend.  He was all of those things to me, and to many others who were blessed to know him during his long and remarkable life.

“Dick was a major force in my career, teaching me how to sharpen my communications skills when I was a young salesman and state legislator, and helping to persuade me to leave my small business and commit myself to public service as a candidate for the U.S. House.  Dick believed I could do it before anybody else did.  He believed in me before I believed it myself.  

“Dick’s finest work was the work he did for the family and community he loved.  He was a devoted husband and father.  As a result of his work for the Middletown Chamber of Commerce and later at Armco, he became an icon in the Middletown community.  He was a visionary who loved his adopted hometown and never stopped believing in its potential. 

“He was one of the greatest men I ever knew.  May God rest his soul and bring comfort to his family.”

2 February, 2016

Speaker Boehner “Beginning to Rev Up Post-Congressional Political Operation”

February 2, 2016

Transfers $1.2 Million to NRCC, Plans Events for Early 2016 in Support of Conservative Majority in House

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Speaker of the House, he assembled what the Washington Post calls “the largest, most sophisticated fundraising operation ever employed by a congressional leader.”  And despite his decision to retire from Congress last fall, former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will remain active in support of the effort to keep and expand a conservative majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, POLITICO and the Post reported this week.

POLITICO’s Jake Sherman reports:

“[Speaker] Boehner is quietly beginning to rev up his post-speakership political operation, dishing money from his campaign coffers to the party and planning a swing of fundraisers this year to bolster the House GOP.  In December, two months after leaving the speakership, Boehner transferred $1.2 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee; that brought the total amount he funneled to the campaign arm in 2015 to a whopping $8 million. . .

“Boehner also gave $800,000 directly to members in 2015.  And Boehner, who famously traveled nonstop for his colleagues when he was speaker, is resuming his political fundraising. He recently spoke at a fundraiser for freshman Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) in Florida. And this spring, he has three fundraisers already scheduled, including one appearance on behalf of North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx, a former member of Boehner’s House Republican leadership team.”

Paul Kane of the Washington Post adds that the former Speaker will continue to use his political assets to support his former colleagues and the majority he helped build in the House:

“John A. Boehner may be gone from elective office, but the former House speaker headed into the political afterlife with more than $2.7 million in leftover political cash that he will use to remain active in helping his former colleagues in the Capitol. . .

 “David [Schnittger], Boehner’s former deputy chief of staff who is serving as his spokesman, said the former speaker will continue to help politically, just at a much reduced scale from the past five years, when some months he spent more time on the road raising campaign cash for colleagues than he did in Washington or southwestern Ohio.  [Schnittger], who now works at Squire Patton Boggs, said Boehner held a fund-raising event for several members in January and has a few more planned for the spring.”

The Middletown Journal reported January 28 that Speaker Boehner will deliver the keynote address at this year’s Butler County [OH] GOP Lincoln Day Dinner, to be held March 12 in West Chester, OH, where the former speaker and wife Debbie have lived for more than 30 years.

More from POLITICO:

 “The former speaker has receded from the spotlight but is still providing millions to elect House Republicans. . .

“‘He’s kept a low profile publicly since leaving office, but his interest in supporting the team and the cause continues,’ said David Schnittger, a longtime Boehner insider who serves as his spokesman. ‘It’s in his blood.’

Speaker Boehner’s post-congressional political operation is headed by John Criscuolo, a longtime aide to the former speaker. 

18 November, 2015

Boehner Speaks on Lessons of Leadership, Resetting America’s Economy in First Post-Congress Speech

November 18, 2015

Full Audio of Former Speaker’s Remarks Available at ForumClub.Org

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In his first formal remarks since handing over the speaker’s gavel and leaving Congress, former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) shared some of the lessons in leadership he acquired during a 25-year run on Capitol Hill and discussed the opportunity that exists to reset America’s economic foundation in the years ahead.

Speaker Boehner’s speech – the full audio of which is available here – was delivered to an audience at the Forum Club of Southwest Florida on Friday, November 13, 2015, fulfilling a speaking commitment Boehner had made months earlier, while still in office.

Speaker Boehner’s Nov. 13 remarks offer both a retrospective on his remarkable years in Congress and a forward-looking policy roadmap for capitalizing on the domestic energy boom, providing an early preview of some of the themes the former speaker is likely to emphasize in his post-congressional work.

In his speech, the former House Speaker said he worries the “supercharged” atmosphere in which politics and governing take place in America today may cause us to “miss our moment as a nation.”

“We’re in the midst of a domestic energy boom in America,” Speaker Boehner said, noting the boom that is underway in part because of bipartisan efforts in Congress that successfully fought efforts by the Obama Administration to block American-made energy production. “[The energy boom] gives us a chance to reset the foundations of our economy and is going to allow us to be more competitive around the world, [and] allow us to improve productivity faster than the rest of the world. [If] we’re serious about taking advantage of this opportunity, I believe there are some things we need to do.”

Among the steps America must take as a nation in the months and years ahead, according to Speaker Boehner:

  • Tax reform. “We need to reform our tax code. Both the corporate tax code and the individual tax code need to be dealt with [and] need to be simplified. It would help to provide more growth and better wages.
  • Education reform. “We educate just over half of the kids in America. It’s a disgrace,” Boehner said. We have an obligation as a nation “to help kids have an opportunity at a decent education. . .it ought to be the civil right of the 21st Century,” the former speaker declared.
  • Entitlement reform. “We need to fix our entitlement problem,” Boehner explained, noting that critical entitlement programs like Medicare are on a collision course with bankruptcy. “We’re all living a lot longer, and these programs were never designed” to handle such pressures, the former speaker said. Boehner noted that changes made to Medicare on a bipartisan basis this year “will save almost $3 trillion in spending” in the coming years that would otherwise have been taken out of the pockets of future generations. “We don’t have to make major changes to these programs,” Boehner noted. “The sooner we tackle these [challenges], the easier it will be to put these programs on a sustainable foundation.”
  • Immigration reform. “We need to fix our immigration system,” Boehner said, noting the issue “has become a political football” in recent years. “We need to strengthen our borders and enforce our laws. . .but we also need to find a way for those willing to learn English and civics and put them on a path to a legal status,” Boehner said. “The next president is going to have to take this on.”

Drawing on his own life experience, Speaker Boehner predicted America will rise to the challenge and embrace the goals he outlined.

“In America you have the freedom to invent, the freedom to try, and yes, the freedom to fail. . .but that philosophy has enabled us to be the leader of the world,” Boehner concluded. “This is the only country where the son of a bartender can grow up to become Speaker of the House.”