Ryan denies retirement reports

Ryan denies retirement reports
© Greg Nash

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBush, Romney won't support Trump reelection: NYT Twitter joins Democrats to boost mail-in voting — here's why Lobbying world MORE (R-Wis.) says he’s not quitting Congress anytime soon.

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

Rumors have been swirling for weeks that Ryan — who this October marked his second year in the Speaker’s office — could resign from Congress shortly after passing his No. 1 legislative priority: tax reform.

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The House and Senate are expected to pass a final version of their historic tax-cuts bill next week, with President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' MORE planning to sign it into law by Christmas Day.

In early November, a number of Ryan’s GOP colleagues told The Hill that the Speaker could pass tax reform and quickly quit Congress, choosing to go out on top with a victory rather than wait to be forced out like his predecessor, Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLott says lobbying firm cut ties to prevent him from taking clients Lobbying firm cuts ties to Trent Lott amid national anti-racism protests Bush, Romney won't support Trump reelection: NYT MORE (R-Ohio).

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

The rumors of Ryan’s possible departure kicked into high gear this week after HuffPost published a piece titled: “When will Paul Ryan step down?”

The story prompted a reporter Thursday to ask Ryan whether he planned to step down anytime soon.

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Later Thursday, Politico published a lengthy story detailing that the 47-year-old Speaker has told close confidants that he will retire after the 2018 midterm election. A native of Janesville, Wis., Ryan was first elected to the House in 1998, and went on to serve as chairman of the Ways and Means and Budget committees as well as Mitt Romney's vice presidential running mate in 2012.

Right now, it’s unclear who could succeed Ryan if he decides to quit in the coming weeks or at the end of his term. There is no clear heir apparent.

But his top deputies — Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyCongress under pressure to provide billions for school openings Supreme Court rulings reignite Trump oversight wars in Congress The Hill's Campaign Report: Florida's coronavirus surge raises questions about GOP convention MORE (R-Calif.), Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseCheney clashes with Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Republicans shift, urge people to wear masks GOP-Trump fractures on masks open up MORE (R-La.) and GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersGOP lawmakers voice support for Israeli plan to annex areas in West Bank Trio of GOP lawmakers asks Zoom to clarify China ties after it suspends accounts Bipartisan senators call for investigation of TikTok's child privacy policies MORE (R-Wash.) — all have been raising their profiles in recent weeks, positioning themselves to climb the leadership ladder once Ryan makes a call.

The chairman of two powerful conservative blocs — Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerPence confidant helps 24-year-old beat Trump-backed candidate Rubio to introduce bill allowing NCAA athletes to make money from name, likeness Democrats press OSHA official on issuing an Emergency Temporary Standard MORE (R-N.C.) of the Republican Study Committee and Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsMeadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Trump wears mask during visit to Walter Reed Barr recommended Trump not give Stone clemency: report MORE (R-N.C.) of the Freedom Caucus — have been deeply involved in the health and tax bills and are key players to watch.