Ryan denies retirement reports

Ryan denies retirement reports
© Greg Nash

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.) 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.

The House and Senate are expected to pass a final version of their historic tax-cuts bill next week, with President TrumpDonald John TrumpAlaska Republican Party cancels 2020 primary Ukrainian official denies Trump pressured president Trump goes after New York Times, Washington Post: 'They have gone totally CRAZY!!!!' 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 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).

“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.

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 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 (R-Calif.), 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 (R-La.) and GOP Conference Chair 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 (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 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 (R-N.C.) of the Republican Study Committee and Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsClarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump The Hill Interview: Sanford says Trump GOP doing 'serious brand destruction' GOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan MORE (R-N.C.) of the Freedom Caucus — have been deeply involved in the health and tax bills and are key players to watch.