House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has decided not to run for re-election in 2018, his office confirmed in a Wednesday morning statement.
“This morning Speaker Ryan shared with his colleagues that this will be his last year as a member of the House. He will serve out his full term, run through the tape, and then retire in January,” Brendan Buck, counselor to Ryan, said in the 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 a father. While he did not seek the position, he told his colleagues that serving as speaker has been the professional honor of his life, and he thanked them for the trust they placed in him,” Buck continued. “He will discuss his decision at a press conference immediately following the member meeting.”
Ryan told a few confidants and colleagues about his decision to retire before sharing the news with the House Republican conference Wednesday morning.
In a press conference Wednesday morning, Ryan told reporters that he decided to retire from Congress in order to spend more time with his family. He noted that his children are all in their teens now and that he no longer wants to be a “weekend dad.”
“You all know that I did not seek this job, I took it reluctantly. But I have given this job everything that I have. And I have no regrets whatsoever for having accepted this responsibility. This has been one of the two greatest honors of my life,” he said. “The job provides incredible opportunities, but the truth is, it’s easy for it to take over everything in your life, and you can’t just let that happen, because there are other things in life that can be fleeting as well. Mainly your time as a husband and a dad, which is the other great honor of my life.”
Ryan touted the new tax law passed by Republicans last year and Republican efforts to increase funding for the military, insisting that Republicans accomplished a lot under his leadership and during Trump’s presidency so far.
Faced with questions from reporters, the speaker denied that he has decided not to run again because of the chance that Democrats could win back the House in the 2018 elections. He also said that President Donald Trump was not a factor in his decision to leave Congress.
Following confirmation from Ryan’s office, President Donald Trump wished Ryan well on Twitter.
Rumors that Ryan will retire at the end of his current term have been swirling for months. When reports surfaced in December that Ryan was considering stepping aside as speaker and leaving Congress, Ryan’s office pushed back on the reports and said Ryan was “not going anywhere anytime soon.” Rumors surfaced again late last month, prompting Former House Speaker John Boehner and former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to publicly dismiss reports that Ryan could leave Congress.
Ryan’s decision to retire will be a blow to Republicans as they head into the 2018 midterms. As speaker, he is a key fundraiser for House Republicans and his decision to call it quits could hurt morale. Several Republicans in the House have already announced plans to retire in 2018, and Ryan’s decision could prompt more to leave Capitol Hill.
Asked if his decision to leave Congress would have an impact on Republicans in 2018, Ryan said that he does not believe his retirement should impact Republicans individual races. Ryan said he considered running again and then retiring shortly after the 2018 election, but he said his “conscience could not handle going out that way.”
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