Ryan denies retirement reports

Ryan denies retirement reports
© Greg Nash

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanIs Joe Biden finished? Krystal Ball previews fifth Democratic debate Former Speaker Boehner's official portrait unveiled 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 TrumpWatergate prosecutor says that Sondland testimony was 'tipping point' for Trump In private moment with Trump, Justice Kennedy pushed for Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: book Obama: 'Everybody needs to chill out' about differences between 2020 candidates 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 BoehnerFormer Speaker Boehner's official portrait unveiled Key Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock From learning on his feet to policy director 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 McCarthyOn The Money: Trump signs short-term spending bill to avoid shutdown | Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 | California high court strikes down law targeting Trump tax returns McCarthy blasts Pelosi on USMCA The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Witness dismisses 'fictional' GOP claims of Ukraine meddling MORE (R-Calif.), Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTrump attacks Fox News for interviewing Swalwell How House Republicans have stayed unified on impeachment Chris Wallace: Trump testifying 'would be akin to Prince Andrew testifying about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein' MORE (R-La.) and GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersThe Suburban Caucus: Solutions for America's suburbs Shimkus announces he will stick with plan to retire after reconsidering Bipartisan group reveals agricultural worker immigration bill 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 WalkerNorth Carolina poised to pass new congressional maps Intercollegiate athletics just got a two-minute warning North Carolina ruling could cost GOP House seats MORE (R-N.C.) of the Republican Study Committee and Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsHouse GOP wants Senate Republicans to do more on impeachment Michelle Obama presents Lin-Manuel Miranda with National Portrait Award Sondland testimony looms over impeachment hearings this week MORE (R-N.C.) of the Freedom Caucus — have been deeply involved in the health and tax bills and are key players to watch.