House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., announced Wednesday he would not seek re-election, triggering debates about both a possible successor and what this move portends for House majority and the Republican Party in general.
“This morning, Speaker Ryan shared with his colleagues that this will be his last year as a member of the House,” Senior advisor Brendan Buck said in a statement. “After nearly twenty years in the House the speaker is proud of all that has been accomplished and is ready to devote more of his time to being a husband and father…”
In a press conference shortly after the announcement, the 48-year-old Ryan cited the desire to spend more time with family as the reason he is ending his 20- year Congressional career.
“My kids were not even born when I was first elected; now all three kids are teenagers. If I stay on for another term, my kids will only ever have known me as a weekend dad,” Ryan told reporters. He was clear about the impact of losing his own father at age 16, and as his children reach the same age he wants to give them what he lost.
Ryan was also clear that he was not resigning — he will remain Speaker through the rest of this year and retire in January 2019.
The Wisconsin Republican was first elected to the U. S. House of Representatives in 1998, and was the 2012 running mate of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Known to have a focus on limited government and balanced budgets, Ryan played a key role in the drive to repeal and replace Obamacare. Having passed numerous bills to defund and replace the disastrous 2010 law, Ryan saw the latest attempt to repeal the bill fail in the Senate last summer.
Speaker of the House since 2015, Ryan made no secret of his reluctance to take over the position mid-term when John Boehner resigned over conflicts within the conservative faction of the Republican Party.
“You all know I did not seek this job…” Ryan reminded reporters, acknowledging that Speaker of the House is a polarizing position but says he has ‘no regrets whatsoever’ for accepting the responsibility. “It is a big job with a lot riding on you,” he added. “It is easy for [the job] to take over your time as a husband and Dad.”
Ryan called his nearly two decades in the House a ‘wild ride but one well worth taking’. The Speaker cited tax reform and defense spending as key accomplishments.
“Tax reform is something I have worked towards my entire adult life. We have a major reform of the entire tax code for the first time in 36 years,” Ryan added, also giving a nod to his party’s efforts in rebuilding America’s military. “I see these as lasting victories that make this country more prosperous and more secure for decades to come.”
The Speaker has also raised over $ 54 million from donors for the Republican 2018 midterm elections.
While Paul Ryan has been critical of President Trump in the past, the two find common ground when it comes to defense spending, tax reform and health care.
Early Wednesday the President tweeted “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. We are with you, Paul!”
Ryan told Fox News that he and the president had developed a good relationship. “We speak on the phone constantly so honestly, we’ve just developed a good friendship — a good rapport. He is the one who gave us — with his victory — the ability to get all this work done, so I’m very excited about that.”
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky said “Paul’s speakership has yielded one signature accomplishment after another…for his constituents in his home state of Wisconsin… and the American people.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi observed in a statement “Despite our differences, I commend his steadfast commitment to our country.”
If Republicans hold the house in November, GOP Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise are mentioned as possible successors. Both men have good relationships with President Trump.
“I like to think I’ve done my part,” Ryan told reporters. “I’m not done yet.”
~ Liberty Planet