House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is not seeking reelection and will retire in January 2019, citing his responsibilities as a father.
“What I realized is, if I am here for one more term, my kids will only have ever known me as a weekend dad,” Ryan said in a news conference Wednesday. His departure is being viewed as a blow to the establishment wing of the GOP, which viewed Ryan as a bulwark of traditional fiscal conservatism facing Trump’s populist storm.
The Speaker’s retirement also throws Republican leadership for a loop in lieu of the coming midterm elections. Ryan, however, said he views a “bright future” for the current majority and doubts his decision will hurt individual races this November.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana are seen as the Speaker’s most likely replacements. Sources told CNN that Ryan notified both McCarthy and Scalise about retiring before announcing it to the public.
Scalise told Fox News he didn’t want to get into speculation, but that “we’ve got to make sure we keep the majority.” McCarthy is a favorite with the far-right House Freedom Caucus, according to a CNN source.
Ryan said only that he is confident he will “hand the gavel over to another Republican.”
While admitting his career goals of deficit reduction and entitlement reform had not been achieved, the Wisconsin congressman focused on his accomplishments, namely tax code reform and the rebuilding of the military with last month’s defense budget increase.
“I like to think I’ve done my part, my little part in history to set us on a better course,” he said.
Many Republicans and even some Democrats seemed to be in agreement.
“Paul Ryan is a person of true integrity who I have had the great fortune to know over the last eight years,” Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson (R) said in a statement. “He has served Janesville, southeastern Wisconsin and our nation honorably. We should all be grateful for his sacrifice and understand his desire to be a full-time dad.”
Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was also surprisingly generous.
“Despite our differences, I commend his steadfast commitment to our country,” she said in a statement. “During his final months, Democrats are hopeful that he joins us to work constructively to advance better futures for all Americans.”
President Donald Trump praised Ryan in a tweet.
“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!”