Obama salutes John Boehner on the way out

President Barack Obama on Friday praised House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who announced a stunning resignation on Friday, as a “good man” and a “patriot.”

“John Boehner’s a good man,” Obama said during a joint press conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping. “He’s a patriot. He cares deeply about the House, an institution in which he’s served for a long time. He cares about his constituents. And he cares about America.”

Obama said Boehner’s resignation took him, like most of Washington, by surprise. He said he only got a chance to call Boehner immediately before his press conference.

Obama and Boehner have had a famously terse relationship since Boehner took the gavel as the House’s speaker after Republicans took control of the chamber in 2011.

They have bickered over a host of fiscal disputes — including recurring fights over raising the nation’s debt ceiling and keeping the federal government funded. They were two of the point men in the deal that ultimately led to the 2011 Budget Control Act, which set spending caps for the next decade.

And an ultimate disagreement over funding for the Affordable Care Act in 2013 led to the first federal government shutdown in 17 years.

“We have obviously had a lot of disagreements. And politically, we’re at different ends of the spectrum. But I will tell you — he has always conducted himself with courtesy and civility with me. He has kept his word when he made a commitment. He is somebody who has been gracious,” Obama said.

“And I think maybe most importantly, he’s somebody who understands that in government and governance, you don’t get 100% of what you want, but you have to work with people who you disagree with — sometimes strongly — in order to do the people’s business.”

Obama said he wouldn’t “prejudge” his relationship with the next speaker. He said, however, that he didn’t think there would be a “big shift” in cooperation between the White House and congressional Republicans going forward.

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