- House Speaker Paul Ryan will not run for reelection in November.
- Ryan had long pushed for a major overhaul of the US tax code before the GOP passed their tax bill in December.
- With the tax law enacted, Ryan reportedly decided it was the right time to step away.
House Speaker Paul Ryan will not run for reelection in November and retire from Congress at the end of his term, the speaker announced Wednesday.
“We all know that I did not seek this job, I took it reluctantly, but I have given this job everything I have and I have no regret whatsoever in accepting this responsibility,” Ryan said at a press conference.
Ryan cited the need to spend more time with his family, particularly his three kids, as the reason for the departure.
There will not be an election for a new speaker before the end of the term, Ryan said, since he plans to “run out the tape” and serve until January.
Jonathan Swan of the news website Axios first reported Wednesday that the Wisconsin Republican had been telling confidants he would not run again. Axios said Ryan had told friends it was the right time to step away, with a tax overhaul accomplished and a tough midterm landscape ahead.
Reports also said that President Donald Trump’s time in the presidency wore on Ryan, contributing to the decision to leave. But, during the press conference the speaker rejected the idea that Trump’s direction added to the choice.
“I’m grateful to the president for giving us this opportunity to do big things to get this country on the right track,” Ryan said.
Ryan long pushed for a major revision of the tax code, a goal the GOP accomplished in December. Following the enacting of the massive tax law, rumours began swirling that Ryan may not run again. Ryan will serve out his full term and informed fellow Republicans of his plans Wednesday during a meeting of the GOP conference.
Ryan is another top Republican out in a tough midterm landscape
Many Republican House members, including several committee chairs, have announced retirements in anticipation of a tough 2018 midterm season for the GOP. Some Republicans worried after the news broke that Ryan’s retirement could harm the party’s chances in November, but the speaker rejected that notion.
“I really do not believe whether I stay or go in 2019 is going to affect a person’s individual race for Congress,” Ryan said. “I really don’t think a person’s race for Congress is going to hinge on whether Paul Ryan is speaker or not.”
Ryan first entered the House in 1999, and he eventually became the chair of the Budget and Ways and Means committees. In 2012, Ryan was tapped by Mitt Romney as the vice-presidential nominee. After the failed bid, Ryan took over as House speaker in 2015 following John Boehner’s retirement.
Following the announcement, Trump tweeted his thank you to Ryan.
“Speaker Paul Ryan is a truly good man, and while he will not be seeking re-election, he will leave a legacy of achievement that nobody can question,” Trump said. “We are with you Paul!”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also praised Ryan in a statement, but urged him to make changes before his departure.
“Speaker Ryan is a good man who is always true to his word. Even though we disagreed on most issues, in the areas where we could work together I always found him to be smart, thoughtful, and straightforward,” Schumer said. “With his newfound political freedom, I hope the Speaker uses his remaining time in Congress to break free from the hard-right factions of his caucus that have kept Congress from getting real things done.”
With Ryan’s decision to not seek reelection, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise could seek the speaker job, with McCarthy as the favourite.
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