The House Republican caucus has an opportunity to shake up its leadership and priorities now that Speaker John Boehner is resigning, but President Obama said Friday he still expects "significant fights around Planned Parenthood and around issues like immigration."
"It's not as if there's been a multitude of areas where the House Republican caucus has sought cooperation previously, so I don't think there's going to be a big shift," Mr. Obama said at a White House press conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
"I do think sometimes Speaker Boehner had a tough position," Mr. Obama continued. "There were members of his caucus who saw compromise of any sort as weakness or betrayal. When you have divided government -- when you have a democracy -- compromise is necessary. I think Speaker Boehner had difficulty persuading members of his caucus" of that.
Mr. Obama called Boehner "a good man and a reasonable man," adding, "I hope we can get some things done before he steps down."
The president also mused that "perhaps the visit by the Holy Father to Congress may have changed hearts and minds." He congratulated Boehner for facilitating Pope Francis' historic visit to Congress on Thursday.
The president and the speaker have had a fraught relationship over the years. Boehner and Mr. Obama were able to negotiate with each other on some occasions, such as in 2011, when they agreed to major spending cuts to avert a government shutdown. Other times, however, their negotiations failed -- in 2013, the government shut down for 16 days over Republicans' opposition to Obamacare.
Mr. Obama noted Friday that he only learned of Boehner's resignation from the press.
The news "took me by surprise, and I took the time prior to this press conference to call John directly and talk to him," he said. He added that Boehner is "a patriot, he cares deeply about the House and the institution in which he's served for along time, he cares about his constituents, and he cares about America."
"Maybe most importantly," he continued, Boehner is "somebody who understands that in governance you don't get 100 percent of what you want, but you have to work with people you disagree with, sometimes strongly, in order to do the people's business."