Ryan denies retirement reports
Speaker Paul Ryan (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 Trump 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 Boehner (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 McCarthy (R-Calif.), Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (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 Walker (R-N.C.) of the Republican Study Committee and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) of the Freedom Caucus — have been deeply involved in the health and tax bills and are key players to watch.
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