Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announced Wednesday that he will not run for re-election, ensuring that the House will get its third leader in four years.
Ryan, who reluctantly agreed to take the speaker’s gavel in 2015, told his colleagues and then reporters that family considerations weighed heavily on his decision to leave Congress. He said his oldest child was 13 when he became speaker, and that all of his children now are teenagers.
“If I’m here for one more term, my kids will only know me as a weekend dad,” he said. “I just can’t let that happen.”
Ryan took over during a tumultuous period, when the 2016 presidential election was just getting started and House Republicans were beset by infighting. Then-Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), dogged by the conservative wing of the GOP caucus, abruptly resigned his seat, and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) could not amass quite enough support to move up.
Ryan agreed to take the job but only under conditions, including one that not all of his time would be consumed by his responsibilities.
“You realize something when you take this job. It’s a big job with a lot riding on you, and you feel it,” he said Wednesday. “But you also know that this is a job that does not last forever. You realize that you hold the office for just a small part of our history. So you better make the most of it. It’s fleeting.”
Ryan said he believes Republicans have “achieved a heckuva lot.” Chief among those accomplishments are tax reform and rebuilding the military.
“These I see as lasting victories that will make this country more prosperous and more secure for decades to come,” he said.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2018
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) praised Ryan on the Senate floor, calling him a “transformational conservative leader” whose legacy would be the “generational accomplishment” of tax reform.
“Amidst all the stresses and pressures of leadership, Paul’s optimism and energy never faded,” he said.
Ryan will leave office with a ton of campaign money in the bank. His political operation crowed just this week about raising $11.1 million in the last quarter, bringing the total for the cycle for “Team Ryan” to $54 million — a record amount for a speaker’s political organization.
Ryan transferred more than $40 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee for use in the 2018 midterm elections.
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