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Ryan could retire after 2018 midterms: report

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats MORE (R-Wis.) is reportedly considering retiring after the 2018 midterm elections.

Politico reported Thursday that Ryan has told his “closest confidants” that his current term as Speaker will be his last.

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According to Politico interviews with three dozen of Ryan’s colleagues, aides, lobbyists and allies, “not a single person believed Ryan will stay in Congress past 2018.”

Ryan told reporters on Thursday that he is not planning on leaving the House.

Asked at the end of his weekly press conference Thursday whether he was leaving Congress “soon,” Ryan chuckled and replied as he walked off the stage: “I’m not, no.”

Speculation about Ryan's future has swirled for months. Last month, several Republicans told The Hill they thought Ryan could be serving his last term of Speaker, particularly if Republicans succeed in passing tax reform.

“There is certainly a school of thought that says ‘leave on a high note,’ ” a GOP lawmaker close to Ryan told The Hill in November. “And passage of tax reform would be a high note for a guy that’s spent 18 years in Congress working on it.”

Congressional Republicans are working to get tax legislation to President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign slams Facebook after thousands of ads blocked by platform's pre-election blackout Mnuchin says he learned of Pelosi's letter to him about stimulus talks 'in the press' Harris to travel to Texas Friday after polls show tie between Trump, Biden MORE’s desk by Christmas.

Several top GOP lawmakers have appeared to be positioning themselves for a bid to replace Ryan if he steps down.

A few of the possible Republicans to replace the Speaker include Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyMcCarthy urges networks not to call presidential race until 'every polling center has closed' House Republicans slated to hold leadership election on Nov. 17 Rocky Mountain National Park closed due to expanding Colorado wildfire MORE (Calif.), who dropped his bid for the speakership two years ago, Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseHouse Republicans slated to hold leadership election on Nov. 17 McCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats MORE (La.), who almost died after a mass shooting in June, GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersConservatives seize on New York Post story to push Section 230 reform Race heats up for top GOP post on powerful Energy and Commerce Committee Hillicon Valley: Trump backs potential Microsoft, TikTok deal, sets September deadline | House Republicans request classified TikTok briefing | Facebook labels manipulated Pelosi video MORE (Wash.) and Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerWant to prevent Democrat destruction? Save our Senate Joe Biden has long forgotten North Carolina: Today's visit is too late Mike Johnson to run for vice chairman of House GOP conference MORE (N.C.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee caucus.

Tax reform has been a long-time goal of Ryan's, and some GOP lawmakers told The Hill earlier this year that the Speaker could choose to go out on top if Republicans are able to enact their legislation by Christmas.

“Maybe Paul slides out of the job if it passes, too. That may actually be more likely than leaving on failure,” one GOP lawmaker close to Ryan said.

Ryan seemed to be growing weary of Washington even before he became Speaker in 2015. He told the National Journal in 2014 that he would not be in Congress another 10 years and that he had no desire to spend his entire career in Washington.

According to Politico, after Mitt Romney’s failed 2012 presidential bid, during which Ryan was the vice presidential nominee, the Wisconsin Republican told his wife that he was considering stepping down from the House. It was then-Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerDemocrats seek wave to bolster House majority Bottom line Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking MORE (R-Ohio) who talked him out of retiring, offering him a waiver that would allow him to continue to serve as the chairman of the Budget Committee.

Even in the weeks before he won the speakership in 2015, Ryan said he was not interested in taking on the position, saying the job was “for an empty nester.” He has three young children.

But Ryan remained a favorite among conservatives for the job. McCarthy, who was a contender for the speakership in 2015, told National Review at the time that he wanted Ryan for the top House job.

— Scott Wong contributed to this story which was updated at 1:31 p.m.