CHICAGO (CBS) -- Members of the Illinois congressional delegation said they were as surprised as anyone else when they learned House Speaker John Boehner would be stepping down next month.
Boehner, an Ohio Republican, announced Friday he would resign from Congress at the end of October, after nearly five years as speaker.
U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, a Republican from Wheaton, said Boehner "has had the toughest job in Washington," and he hopes "House Republicans will focus on a plan to get out of their dysfunctional state, and not just change ranks."
U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, a Winfield Republican, said he hopes the next speaker can bring the fractured GOP caucus together, and make sure conservative members are heard; but he credited Boehner for leading House Republicans in the majority.
"It's been our largest majority in 80 years or so, so it is I think to his credit, but also I think it's important for him to pick the timing, rather than something else to have happened; you now, someone else to call a vote, or whatever. I think it is important for us to move forward," Hultgren said.
U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, a Chicago Democrat, said there was universal shock among House Democrats when they learned of Boehner's decision, but on reflection, they'd seen what he's been facing.
"Clearly there's dissension in the party, and the speaker's had a lot of trouble trying to work with this far right, the Tea Party, which is a minority of his majority, but they make things very difficult for him and his moderates at election time," he said. "Very few speakers have had to deal with … they've all had a far right, but this far right, this Tea Party – referred to here on the Hill as the Full Moon Caucus – are especially unreasonable," he said.
U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, another Chicago Democrat, praised Boehner for resisting more extreme Republican views, saying it couldn't have been easy to be a decent man at the head of what he feels is becoming a party of anti-immigrant policies and intolerance.
Quigley said it's too soon to tell how a new speaker might impact the gridlock on Capitol Hill.
"It just depends how it plays out. If the far right wins out, and has a greater role in leadership – it's hard to imagine they would elect a speaker, but we'll see – the farther right they go, the more likely it is that nothing will get done," he said.
Quigley said he hopes moderate Republicans maintain control of their party's caucus.
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