Speaker John Boehner, reflecting Wednesday on a nearly quarter-century run on Capitol Hill, defended his decision to push a bipartisan budget deal through the House as his final act before leaving Congress. "It's a solid agreement and I'm proud of it," Boehner told reporters shortly before the House approved the deal that raises the government's borrowing limit through early 2017 and sets spending levels for two years—taking both those thorny issues off the table for Speaker-nominee Rep. Paul Ryan. "It was something that in my view had to be done," Boehner said. "I didn't think leaving this for the next speaker was at all fair." The deal passed the House 266 to 167, with 79 Republicans and 187 Democrats in favor.
Boehner said he isn't having any second thoughts about leaving. Ryan, an "innovative thinker," will be a solid successor, according to Boehner, who said he'd given him lots of advice. Chief among it: "This is the loneliest place in the world. Almost as lonely as the presidency." His biggest regret, he said, and one that "still stings," was not finalizing a major budget deal with President Obama in 2011 that would put the country on a much sounder fiscal footing. The 65-year-old has worked every day of his life since he had a paper route at age 8, and he claimed to have no idea what he'll do next, though golf and time with his first grandchild—who he joked will address him as "Mr. Speaker"—will play a big part. (Ryan thinks the process that led to the budget deal "stinks.")