Ryan could retire after 2018 midterms: report

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanIndiana GOP Rep. Brooks says she won't seek reelection Indiana GOP Rep. Brooks says she won't seek reelection Inside Biden's preparations for first debate 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 defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' 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 McCarthyThe case for congressional pay raises McConnell defends Trump amid backlash: 'He gets picked at every day' McConnell defends Trump amid backlash: 'He gets picked at every day' MORE (Calif.), who dropped his bid for the speakership two years ago, Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseThe case for congressional pay raises The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Biden, Sanders to share stage at first DNC debate The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Biden, Sanders to share stage at first DNC debate MORE (La.), who almost died after a mass shooting in June, GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersLawmakers celebrate 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote The GOP's commitment to electing talented women can help party retake the House McCain and Dingell: Inspiring a stronger Congress MORE (Wash.) and Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerTillis dodges primary challenge in NC Tillis dodges primary challenge in NC The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa 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 BoehnerTed Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists Ted Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists Rep. Amash stokes talk of campaign against Trump 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.