Ryan could retire after 2018 midterms: report

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDemocrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Three-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas 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 TrumpTrump's top adviser on Asia to serve as deputy national security adviser United Auto Workers strike against GM poised to head into eighth day Trump doubles down on call to investigate Biden after whistleblower complaint: 'That's the real story' 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 McCarthyClarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Zuckerberg to 'cooperate' on antitrust probes | Dems see victory after McConnell backs election security funds | Twitter takes down fake pro-Saudi accounts Lawmakers say Zuckerberg has agreed to 'cooperate' with antitrust probe MORE (Calif.), who dropped his bid for the speakership two years ago, Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseScalise blasts Democratic legislation on gun reforms Liz Cheney calls for 'proportional military response' against Iran On The Money: Senate panel scraps vote on key spending bill amid standoff | Democrats threaten to vote against defense bill over wall funding | Trump set to meet with aides about reducing capital gains taxes MORE (La.), who almost died after a mass shooting in June, GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersSocial determinants of health — health care isn't just bugs and bacteria Lawmakers deride FTC settlement as weak on Facebook Overnight Energy: Fight over fuel standards intensifies | Democrats grill Trump officials over rule rollback | California official blasts EPA chief over broken talks | Former EPA official says Wheeler lied to Congress MORE (Wash.) and Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerTo boost minority serving institutions, bipartisan Future Act needs immediate action Pressure rises on Cheney to make decision NCAA urges California governor not to sign 'fair pay' bill for college athletes 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 BoehnerBoehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush Meadows to be replaced by Biggs as Freedom Caucus leader Scaramucci compares Trump to Jonestown cult leader: 'It's like a hostage crisis inside the White House' 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.