Ryan could retire after 2018 midterms: report

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanEx-White House spokesman Raj Shah joins Fox Corporation as senior vice president Trump quietly rolled back programs to detect, combat weapons of mass destruction: report Ocasio-Cortez top aide emerges as lightning rod amid Democratic feud 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.”

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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 Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants History in the House: Congress weathers unprecedented week EU official in Canada says he feels 'at home' there because no one was shouting 'send him back' MORE (Calif.), who dropped his bid for the speakership two years ago, Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseThe Memo: Fears of violence grow amid Trump race storm Democrats call for increased security after 'send her back' chants Democratic strategist on Trump tweets: 'He's feeding this fear and hate' MORE (La.), who almost died after a mass shooting in June, GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersOvernight 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 EPA head clashes with California over how car emissions negotiations broke down Lawmakers celebrate 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote MORE (Wash.) and Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerDemocrats should rise above and unify against Trump's tweets The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants GOP rattled by Trump rally 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 won't say whether he'd back Biden over Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP Amash's critics miss the fact that partisanship is the enemy of compromise 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.