Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Wednesday he will not run for re-election, saying he wants to be more than a “weekend dad” before his children graduate high school.
“As you all know, I did not seek this job [House speaker], but I have given it all I have and I have no regrets,” Ryan said in a 10 a.m. briefing to reporters. “Being speaker has been one of the truly great honors of my life.”
“But the truth is, [the job] takes over … and the truth is, there are other things in life that are fleeting, being a father to young children,” he said.
“If I am here for one more term my kids will only have ever known me as a weekend dad. I just can’t let that happen. So I will be setting new priorities in my life,” he added.
Ryan announced his plans at a closed-door meeting of House Republicans Wednesday morning. He said he was announcing his retirement now because to run for re-election and then retire would have been the dishonest thing to do.
“I will serve out my term and then will leave a Republican majority in good hands with a bright future,” he said.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California known to be tighter with Trump, is expected to seeking the speaker post. He will likely compete with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, of Louisiana, for the job. Both men spoke at the closed-door meeting Wednesday, delivering tributes to Ryan.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, predicted Wednesday that the race to replace Ryan as speaker will be settled before the midterm elections.
“I think who the next Speaker will be, will certainly be decided before November,” Meadows told reporters. “Not in fact, but probably in practicality.”
Ryan’s plans have been the source of much speculation for several weeks. He is the 25th Republican lawmaker to announce his retirement this year.
The House speaker had made tax cuts a centerpiece of his legislative agenda, and Congress delivered on that late last year.
On Wednesday, he that President Donald Trump, with whom he has had a sometimes difficult relationship, with setting the stage to make that happen, adding “I’m proud of what we have accomplished.”
Ryan, a Republican from Janesville, Wisconsin, was first elected to Congress in 1998 and became speaker in 2015 after former House Speaker John Boehner retired. He was former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012.
Shortly before Ryan met with reporters, President Trump said on Twitter the outgoing speaker would leave a “legacy of achievement.”
“Speaker Paul Ryan is a truly good man, and while he will not be seeking re-election, he will leave a legacy of achievement that nobody can question. We are with you Paul!” Trump said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she hopes House Speaker Paul Ryan will spend his final months in office working “constructively” with Democrats.
In a brief statement, Pelosi didn’t cite any specific issues she wants to tackle with the Republican she has opposed on nearly every issue.
Instead she applauded Ryan as an “avid advocate for his point of view and for the people of his district.” And she commends him for his “steadfast commitment to our country.”
Ryan’s retirement also raises the question of who will run for his seat in Congress. As of Wednesday morning, the most likely Republican candidate is state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.
Vos did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Another Republican mentioned as a potential candidate is longtime Ryan family friend and Ryan backer Bryan Steil, an attorney and member of the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents.
Steil also did not respond to request for comment Wednesday morning.