April 11, 2018
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan told colleagues Wednesday he will not seek re-election, dealing a blow to Republican efforts to keep the majority of the U.S. House.
House Speaker Paul Ryan says he is not running for re-election
"This morning Speaker Ryan shared with his colleagues that this will be his last year as a member of the House," said Brendan Buck, Ryan's counselor.
Buck said Ryan will serve out his term, "run through the tape, and then retire in January."
His retirement announcement leaves a void in Republican leadership as it faces a tough series of elections that will determine whether the GOP can keep control of Congress.
The Wisconsin Republican, in his tenth term as a House member, has been speaker since 2015, replacing John Boehner.He was the 2012 Republican candidate for vice president on nominee Mitt Romney's ticket, and was considered a potential presidential candidate in 2016 but opted not to run.
Democrats hailed Ryan's retirement as a sign that he knows GOP will take big losses in November, and may well lose the House majority and speakership.
“Stay tuned for more retirements as Republicans increasingly realize that their midterm prospects are doomed," said Tyler Law, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
President Trump, who has had an on-again, off-again relationship with the speaker, tweeted out praise on Wednesday: "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's announcement is likely to set off a major battle for Republican leadership in the House. Possible replacements include Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., now Ryan's second-in-command, and Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., now the third-ranking House member.
When asked about Ryan's ability to serve out the remainder of the year as leader while his top deputies were angling to succeed him, Rep. Mark Meadows, the North Carolina Republican who chairs the hard-line House Freedom Caucus that often tangled with Ryan on legislation, said it was certainly possible.
“Will it happen?" Meadows said. "I think the next few weeks will determine whether that happens or not. Everyone will start jockeying for position immediately. They won’t wait for 9 months.”
Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Penn., said it was too early to talk about who would replace Ryan.
“The bigger issue right now is just trying to maintain the majority,” said Dent, who is retiring this year. He said Republicans face a “toxic” environment this year but the midterms were never going to be about Ryan. Instead, he said, it would be more of a referendum on President Trump. “This is going to be a challenging year.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., praising Ryan despite their differences, said replacing him will be difficult: "The job may be made harder because Congressmen Scalise and McCarthy will be competing for the hard-right's favor, but Speaker Ryan is up to the job.”
While Ryan had support from rank-and-file Republicans, he also took heat from conservative who said he was too quick to compromise with Democrats.
Buck noted that Ryan did not seek the speaker's post -- colleagues urged him to take the job after Boehner's sudden departure -- but he "is proud of all that has been accomplished and is ready to devote more of his time to being a husband and a father."
Ryan 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 said.
The speaker has also clashed with Trump.
Trump criticized Ryan's legislative strategy, including the failed effort to repeal President Barack Obama's health care plan. Ryan criticized some of Trump's more intemperate remarks.
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