WASHINGTON - (AP) In a stunning move, House Speaker John Boehner informed Republicans on Friday that he would step down at the end of October, giving up his coveted leadership post and his seat in Congress in the face of hardline conservative opposition.

The 13-term Ohio Republican shocked his GOP caucus early Friday morning when he informed them of his decision in a closed-door session. It came one day after the high point of Boehner's congressional career, a historic speech by Pope Francis to Congress at Boehner's request.

Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said Boehner "just does not want to become the issue. Some people have tried to make him the issue both in Congress and outside."

Conservatives have demanded that any legislation to keep the government operating past Wednesday's midnight deadline strip Planned Parenthood of his funds, a move rejected by the more pragmatic lawmakers. The dispute had threatened Boehner's speakership and roiled the GOP caucus.

Boehner took over the speakership in January 2011.