Just last night The Hill reported that Boehner ally Patrick McHenry was sniffing around to find primary challengers for Mark Meadows, the GOP rep spearheading the “oust Boehner” movement in the House, presumably to scare Meadows into backing off. Twelve hours later, Boehner’s on his way out. What happened? Did Boehner decide to quit awhile ago and kept his secret so well that even pals like McHenry didn’t know? Or did Boehner himself only make this decision very recently?

He hung on long enough to meet the Pope, but not long enough to totally disrupt news coverage of the Pope’s UN address this morning. Huh.

Speaker John A. Boehner will resign from Congress and give up his House seat at the end of October, according to aides in his office.

Mr. Boehner was under extreme pressure from the right wing of his conference over whether or not to defund Planned Parenthood in a bill to keep the government open.

The Wall Street Journal says his final day will be October 30th. Now we wait for House Republicans to start whispering to reporters about what happened. Did Boehner’s team quietly poll the caucus and find that there wasn’t enough conservative support to ensure he’d beat back Meadows’s challenge? If so, maybe Boehner decided he’d rather spare himself the humiliation of that vote, especially if it meant he’d need Democratic support to retain his job as Speaker. Or maybe Boehner intended to leave all along but got wind that conservatives were preparing to mount a challenge to Kevin McCarthy as the presumptive next Speaker. By pulling the plug now before they can organize any further, Boehner’s all but ensuring that McCarthy will succeed him.

Stand by for updates. Yowza.

Update: Good point from a Twitter buddy: Maybe this is Boehner’s way of freeing himself to make deals with Democrats this month without any worries of conservative blowback. If he gave up on Planned Parenthood and the Iran deal and the debt ceiling, the challenge from Meadows would be hanging over his head for the rest of the next two months. Now he can do whatever he thinks is best without caring what the tea partiers think.

Kevin McCarthy doesn’t have that luxury, though. Does the Speaker-in-waiting support a shutdown if need be?

Update: A source on the Hill e-mails that Boehner had intended to leave sooner but decided to stay on after Cantor was upset in his primary last summer. Presumably, once his presumptive successor was gone, he felt obliged to hang around a bit longer while McCarthy learned the ropes of a top leadership job. The same source suggests that, because of Meadows’s challenge, the contentious issues before the House right now would end up creating leadership turmoil, which would be bad for the House. Out of respect for the institution, Boehner decided to leave now.

So, in the “did he jump or was he pushed?” calculus, the answer allegedly is a bit of both. He wanted to jump last year. House conservatives finally pushed him off the cliff now. You want have John Boehner to kick around anymore! Now you’ll be kicking around Kevin McCarthy.

Update: Wut?

Update: Not much sadness in conservative America this morning:

Update: RCP elections analyst Sean Trende pees in the punchbowl:

Boehner held the caucus together, albeit only barely and with great difficulty. McCarthy will feel pressure to do more for the conservative wing to keep them happy, which means a greater risk of future shutdowns, a backlash among Republican centrists, and potentially another messy leadership struggle soon. Cruz and Rubio will end up being sucked into this too insofar as they’ll be forced to decide whether to follow a House GOP that’s more confrontational with Obama. That’s not much of a problem for Cruz but it is potentially a problem for Rubio. In a worst-case scenario, if the next Speaker feels obliged to show off his fighting spirit by standing on principle amid a prolonged shutdown, it could blow up on the GOP in House elections next year. Then again, McCarthy knows that — as do House conservatives, who’ll probably want to give him a little breathing room early on, at least until election day has passed.

Update: Politico: “On Thursday evening as he left the Capitol, Boehner (R-Ohio) told two reporters — one from POLITICO and another from the Washington Post — that he had nothing left to accomplish after he brought Pope Francis to the Capitol.”

Update: Hmmmmmmm:

Not sure if that means simply bypassing McCarthy, the current majority leader, for a more conservative choice or trying to eliminate him by exposing some sort of scandal. We’ll know soon! For what it’s worth, Paul Ryan says he doesn’t want the job.

Update: You trust Speaker McCarthy, don’t you?

https://twitter.com/michaelbd/status/647415329774260224

Update: Here’s the statement from Mark Meadows, the man organizing the “Boehner must go” effort in the House:

“Speaker Boehner has served honorably during a difficult time for Republicans when the threat of a veto from the White House constantly impedes our legislative agenda. At times I differed with Speaker Boehner on policy or procedural positions, but I commend him for his honorable service, his humility, his undeniable love for his country and his desire to serve this great nation. I look forward to an open and inclusive discussion as the House pursues new leadership. There are critically important issues the House must address in the coming months. It is of the utmost importance that our new leadership reflect the diverse makeup of the House Republican Conference and, ultimately, that the voices of the American people are heard through their elected representatives.