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Washington • When Utah's Jason Chaffetz was elected to Congress in 2008, he told then-Minority Leader John Boehner that he'd be willing to serve on any committee he was needed. Chaffetz didn't pander or whine like some other newbies about needing to be on this top committee or that one.
And that impressed Boehner, who rewarded Chaffetz with a spot on two of the more powerful committees in the House: Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform.
Chaffetz and his Utah colleague Rob Bishop were seen as Boehner allies in what has become a fractured House GOP caucus; they were later given chairmanships and earned trusted status when the Ohio Republican took over as House speaker.
Boehner's announcement Friday that he would resign his leadership role and his seat in October follows a conservative coup that had threatened a no confidence vote to oust the speaker.
When Boehner told his fellow GOP members of his decision a day after the Catholic speaker welcomed Pope Francis to the Capitol for an historic speech the news was reportedly met with silence.
Chaffetz did not return a call for comment but issued a statement praising the speaker.
"Speaker Boehner has honorably served this country and I am grateful for his leadership," Chaffetz said. "I thank him for his faithful service to this great country, for the opportunities he has entrusted to me, and for his personal friendship."
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., had filed a motion in July to vacate the speaker's post.
With five days until the federal government's budget expires, Boehner had faced a backlash with some conservatives saying they wouldn't vote for any spending bill that included money for Planned Parenthood, setting up the possibility that no budget agreement could be met and the prospect of a government shutdown.
Boehner's resignation, slated for Oct. 30, has triggered a scramble at the Capitol about who would take his spot, with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California thought to be a likely choice.
"I think that Kevin McCarthy would be an excellent speaker," Boehner said.
The resignation also raises a question whether Chaffetz could seek a leadership spot, and whether conservatives in the Senate might now attempt to oust their GOP leader, Mitch McConnell.
The National Journal's Sarah Mimms tweeted that Rep. Matt Salmon, an Arizona Republican, told her that he texted Utah Sen. Mike Lee on Friday morning: "Next guy in the cross hairs will probably be McConnell."
Lee's office said the senator texted back, "Doubt about that conclusion."
Lee, who is seen as a leader of the Senate's conservative wing, said in a statement that he was grateful for Boehner's work in bringing the pope to speak to Congress and praised Boehner's work on behalf of his district.
"His decades of public service representing the people of Ohio are commendable and I wish him and his family the best in their future life," Lee added.
Rep. Chris Stewart, a Utah Republican whom Boehner appointed to a plum post on the House Appropriations Committee, noted that the House speaker has a "very tough and thankless job."
"The speaker takes arrows for the House of Representatives every day," the congressman added.
Bishop, who serves as chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, an appointment he owes to Boehner, was also a close confidant of the speaker. While serving as a committee chairman is a heavy load, Boehner also asked the Utah Republican to serve on the House Rules Committee, which makes key decisions on what bills and amendments make it to the floor.
"Speaker Boehner has always been an honest person who is extremely helpful on Western issues," Bishop, a former Utah House speaker, said in a statement. "Unlike some former speakers, he honored the House and allowed it to do its will, even if he lost on an issue. In sharp contrast to his predecessor, he allowed more votes and opened up more debate. He respected the institution enough to lose a vote on the floor. I have to respect this approach to the speakership."
Boehner appeared later Friday before reporters, looking relieved. At one point, he jokingly started singing the classic Disney song, "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-A."
"I don't want my members to have to go through this," the speaker said of a possible no confidence vote or fight over his leadership spot. "I certainly didn't want my institution to go through this."
Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, said that she hoped Boehner's decision would bring about a "positive agenda and greater unity in the House of Representatives."
"In this time of transition, I am eager to work with a generation of leaders who will bring about a positive agenda that leads to effective policies which uphold American values," she said.