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House Speaker Paul Ryan won't seek re-election: 'I like to think I've done my part'

House Speaker Paul Ryan is not seekin...

Posted: Apr 11, 2018 8:40 PM
Updated: Apr 11, 2018 8:40 PM

House Speaker Paul Ryan is not seeking re-election and will retire from Congress after this year, the Wisconsin Republican announced Wednesday.

"You realize something when you take this job," Ryan told reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesday morning. "It's a big job with a lot riding on you ... but you also know this is not a job that does not last forever. ... You realize you hold the office for just a small part of our history. So you better make the most of it."

He reminded reporters that he took the job "reluctantly" in 2015, when he took over from John Boehner, but Ryan also said he has no "regrets."

"I like to think I've done my part, my little part in history to set us on a better course," Ryan said.

Ryan's departure is a blow to GOP members who saw the Wisconsin Republican as a stable and policy-oriented leader in a party shaken by the tumultuous Donald Trump presidency. He has been a fundraising juggernaut ahead of the midterms this fall, and helped translate GOP agenda items into legislation such as a series of tax cuts and rolling back banking legislation put in place under Democrats.

In his prepared remarks, Ryan focused on the tax law that passed last year as a key legacy he left behind and spoke at length about his desire to go home to Wisconsin to be with his family. He said that the 2018 midterms and the chance that he wouldn't be speaker didn't factor at all into his decision to announce his retirement.

"None whatsoever actually," Ryan said.

Looming in the aftermath of Ryan's announcement is the reality of an impending leadership race that will now stretch for months ahead of a contentious midterm election. But Ryan downplayed that it would be a distraction.

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Trump, who has at times fought with congressional Republicans including Ryan, tweeted praise for the speaker after his announcement.

"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!" Trump wrote.

How Ryan made his decision

The discussions about Ryan's future have been closely held, according to a person familiar with the decision. Along with his wife, Janna, and his three kids, Ryan has been discussing next steps with a group of roughly six close aides for the last several months.

This person said Ryan made his decision over the spring recess with his family while spending some time with them overseas after his official trip wrapped up in the Czech Republic.

"This has been a direction that he has been heading in for a while, but I will say as recently as February he has been talking about running again," this person said. Even before his biggest legislative accomplishment -- tax reform -- was across the finish line Ryan was contemplating that this would be his last term in the House.

The speaker directed his aides to never definitely say he was running for re-election, and his public comments always gave him the room to step down next year.

One thing that was always part of the speaker's calculus, and he has spoken about throughout his career, was the impact of losing his father at the age of 16.

"It's always weighed heavily on him. and at a moment like this when his kids are reaching the same age as when his father passed away, it's especially poignant," the person familiar with the decision told reporters.

Who will replace Ryan?

While it has long been expected that Ryan would leave after the 115th Congress, sources close to him have said for weeks they expected he would run again in order to raise money for the party and not throw his conference into a leadership battle. Ryan "recently" came to the conclusion that wasn't the best path for him, one of the sources said.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana are among the contenders congressional observers see as most likely to replace Ryan.

Scalise demurred when asked if he would run for the speakership.

"We're getting way ahead of ourselves. Obviously, there's a lot of speculation, but I've been real clear for a long time, I don't want to get into speculation," he told Fox News, adding, "We've got to make sure we keep the majority."

Scalise told Politico in March that he would not rule out running for the speakership if Ryan were to retire.

One source with the conservative bloc, the House Freedom Caucus, says McCarthy is, at this early stage, likely to have the support to become the next speaker with the group's chairman, Rep. Mark Meadows, a front-runner to become majority leader.

McCarthy had run to succeed Boehner in fall 2015 before abruptly dropping out, leaving space for Ryan to run and be elected at the end of October that year.

Ryan is likely to weigh in publicly on who should succeed him as speaker. The person familiar with Ryan's decision said, "He has thoughts on this and he will share those at a later time."

That source insisted that the leadership race can wait until January, and the speaker can still effectively lead the GOP conference: "He has confidence that his leadership team will be able to pull together and get the job done for the rest of the year."

Republicans say they're going to miss Ryan

Even though the Republican conference was not always unified behind Ryan, members of both parties and both chambers praised his tenure.

"Paul Ryan is a person of true integrity who I have had the great fortune to know over the last eight years," GOP Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin 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."

In an apparent reference to the struggles facing Ryan, Rep. Trey Gowdy released a statement both praising the retiring speaker and encouraging those who think they can do better to step up.

"To those within Congress who always seemed to have a better idea or a smarter strategy, now is your chance to run for speaker," the South Carolina Republican said in his statement. "To those outside of Congress who always seemed to have a better idea or a smarter strategy, you do not have to be a member of the House to be speaker of the House and hence, now is your chance to run for speaker."

Meadows, of North Carolina, praised Ryan's tenure in a statement after the news broke.

"Speaker Ryan has served our country well for decades as a thoughtful policy leader in the House," he told CNN. "He will be successful in any future endeavor and I wish him all the best."

Even Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House and former speaker herself, found some kind words for her Republican counterpart.

"Despite our differences, I commend his steadfast commitment to our country," Pelosi 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."

Ryan wants to spend time with his family

According to two sources with direct knowledge, in calls this morning with his leadership team, Ryan made clear much of this decision was about spending time with his family, but also noted that he planned to leave after this Congress and didn't think it was fair to his district or the GOP conference to run for re-election only to leave right after. Sources familiar told CNN that Ryan called McCarthy and Scalise about his retirement before the news broke.

Ryan called Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday morning ahead of his announcement, a source familiar with their conversation told CNN.

The speaker met with members of his caucus on Wednesday morning. Rep. Darrell Issa of California told CNN that Ryan told members he promises to be more than a "Sunday dad" and he cited his family as part of his decision. At one point Wednesday morning, reporters outside the conference room could hear a long applause from inside the meeting.

Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, has been in Congress since 1999 and became House speaker in 2015. Ryan reluctantly ran to replace then-Speaker Boehner of Ohio, who retired after sparring regularly with the most conservative members of his conference, including many members of the House Freedom Caucus.

Some of Ryan's close friends previously told CNN that he might leave office after the 2018 midterms. Ryan said in a January interview with CBS News that re-election was a decision he and his wife were planning to make together in late spring, and in March he denied a rumor that he wouldn't seek re-election.

The news of Ryan's retirement was first reported by Axios.

This story has been updated with additional developments and will continue to update.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1462456

Reported Deaths: 20308
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion2005922494
Lake992001456
Allen903391005
Hamilton70705539
St. Joseph63078746
Elkhart48098622
Vanderburgh46217523
Tippecanoe42115330
Johnson37119516
Hendricks35078455
Porter33900460
Madison28036530
Clark25186321
Vigo24768341
LaPorte22894307
Monroe22201243
Howard21344372
Delaware20937363
Hancock18289217
Kosciusko17513199
Bartholomew17399212
Warrick16060212
Wayne15757296
Floyd15399252
Grant14898293
Morgan13934230
Boone13172136
Noble11421140
Dearborn11355112
Henry11312201
Shelby11231150
Marshall11041166
Dubois10782152
Jackson10174104
DeKalb9944128
Cass9942142
Lawrence9914219
Huntington9823139
Gibson9131125
Montgomery9005140
Knox8762124
Harrison8718111
Whitley844771
Steuben8340102
Jasper8069113
Putnam795197
Clinton792994
Miami7914133
Wabash7598138
Jefferson7551124
Ripley6993111
Adams6508101
Scott629086
Daviess6266127
White602379
Greene5913111
Clay587173
Wells5814120
Decatur5754118
Jennings572276
Fayette5657121
Posey529146
LaGrange512996
Randolph4925128
Washington482067
Owen480398
Fountain463579
Spencer438156
Starke434086
Sullivan432164
Fulton426790
Orange412682
Jay403964
Rush395736
Carroll371349
Franklin369850
Perry362155
Vermillion345062
Pike308945
Tipton307974
Parke305038
Pulaski266973
Blackford266755
Newton228359
Brown222654
Benton213321
Crawford211231
Switzerland189414
Martin181921
Warren169520
Union163619
Ohio119516
Unassigned0742

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2403645

Reported Deaths: 30922
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin2596932036
Cuyahoga2572672998
Hamilton1666711699
Montgomery1103831586
Summit1066861382
Lucas895171149
Butler78647924
Stark747301383
Lorain62885783
Warren49934468
Mahoning49735909
Lake46850586
Clermont43541428
Delaware38876210
Trumbull38576748
Medina37611416
Licking36901401
Fairfield33848331
Greene32124416
Portage31381356
Clark30277440
Richland28251420
Wood27660289
Allen24372392
Miami22806389
Muskingum22298244
Columbiana22095399
Wayne21275354
Tuscarawas18847423
Erie18041221
Ashtabula17932338
Marion17503231
Scioto16553203
Ross16163249
Pickaway15536173
Hancock15251227
Geauga15244221
Lawrence13847186
Huron13399182
Union1329683
Belmont13255247
Jefferson12864257
Sandusky12770197
Athens11949106
Knox11511195
Seneca11454200
Ashland10795174
Darke10673196
Washington10564168
Auglaize10152141
Crawford9854175
Shelby9699155
Brown9400140
Fulton9235148
Guernsey9109115
Defiance9057134
Highland9035143
Logan8955141
Clinton8719121
Mercer8640111
Madison8568104
Preble8002160
Williams7848135
Putnam7731135
Ottawa7629120
Champaign7556112
Jackson7383114
Perry714598
Coshocton7043136
Morrow694580
Fayette662287
Hardin6219125
Pike617086
Gallia594989
Adams5779124
Van Wert5779120
Henry565592
Hocking5521103
Carroll4828100
Wyandot482289
Holmes4747161
Paulding401163
Meigs375071
Monroe299368
Noble279851
Harrison279461
Morgan276848
Vinton239845
Unassigned08
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