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Paul Ryan in 2017: Not going anywhere

Paul Ryan tells "Good Morning America" that he has no plans to retire despite rumors that he will leave the House in 2018.

Posted: Apr 12, 2018 10:34 AM
Updated: Apr 12, 2018 10:34 AM

House Speaker Paul Ryan is not seeking re-election and will retire from Congress after this year, the Wisconsin Republican announced Wednesday.

"You realize something when you take this job," Ryan told reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesday morning. "It's a big job with a lot riding on you ... but you also know this is not a job that does not last forever. ... You realize you hold the office for just a small part of our history. So you better make the most of it."

He reminded reporters that he took the job "reluctantly" in 2015, when he took over from John Boehner, but Ryan also said he has no "regrets."

"I like to think I've done my part, my little part in history to set us on a better course," Ryan said.

Ryan's departure is a blow to GOP members who saw the Wisconsin Republican as a stable and policy-oriented leader in a party shaken by the tumultuous Donald Trump presidency. He has been a fundraising juggernaut ahead of the midterms this fall, and helped translate GOP agenda items into legislation such as a series of tax cuts and rolling back banking legislation put in place under Democrats.

In his prepared remarks, Ryan focused on the tax law that passed last year as a key legacy he left behind and spoke at length about his desire to go home to Wisconsin to be with his family. He said that the 2018 midterms and the chance that he wouldn't be speaker didn't factor at all into his decision to announce his retirement.

"None whatsoever actually," Ryan said.

Looming in the aftermath of Ryan's announcement is the reality of an impending leadership race that will now stretch for months ahead of a contentious midterm election. But Ryan downplayed that it would be a distraction.

RELATED: There is a wave of Republicans leaving Congress, updated again

Trump, who has at times fought with congressional Republicans including Ryan, tweeted praise for the speaker after his announcement.

"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 wrote.

How Ryan made his decision

The discussions about Ryan's future have been closely held, according to a person familiar with the decision. Along with his wife, Janna, and his three kids, Ryan has been discussing next steps with a group of roughly six close aides for the last several months.

This person said Ryan made his decision over the spring recess with his family while spending some time with them overseas after his official trip wrapped up in the Czech Republic.

"This has been a direction that he has been heading in for a while, but I will say as recently as February he has been talking about running again," this person said. Even before his biggest legislative accomplishment -- tax reform -- was across the finish line Ryan was contemplating that this would be his last term in the House.

The speaker directed his aides to never definitely say he was running for re-election, and his public comments always gave him the room to step down next year.

One thing that was always part of the speaker's calculus, and he has spoken about throughout his career, was the impact of losing his father at the age of 16.

"It's always weighed heavily on him. and at a moment like this when his kids are reaching the same age as when his father passed away, it's especially poignant," the person familiar with the decision told reporters.

Who will replace Ryan?

While it has long been expected that Ryan would leave after the 115th Congress, sources close to him have said for weeks they expected he would run again in order to raise money for the party and not throw his conference into a leadership battle. Ryan "recently" came to the conclusion that wasn't the best path for him, one of the sources said.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana are among the contenders congressional observers see as most likely to replace Ryan.

Scalise demurred when asked if he would run for the speakership.

"We're getting way ahead of ourselves. Obviously, there's a lot of speculation, but I've been real clear for a long time, I don't want to get into speculation," he told Fox News, adding, "We've got to make sure we keep the majority."

Scalise told Politico in March that he would not rule out running for the speakership if Ryan were to retire.

One source with the conservative bloc, the House Freedom Caucus, says McCarthy is, at this early stage, likely to have the support to become the next speaker with the group's chairman, Rep. Mark Meadows, a front-runner to become majority leader.

McCarthy had run to succeed Boehner in fall 2015 before abruptly dropping out, leaving space for Ryan to run and be elected at the end of October that year.

Ryan is likely to weigh in publicly on who should succeed him as speaker. The person familiar with Ryan's decision said, "He has thoughts on this and he will share those at a later time."

That source insisted that the leadership race can wait until January, and the speaker can still effectively lead the GOP conference: "He has confidence that his leadership team will be able to pull together and get the job done for the rest of the year."

Republicans say they're going to miss Ryan

Even though the Republican conference was not always unified behind Ryan, members of both parties and both chambers praised his tenure.

"Paul Ryan is a person of true integrity who I have had the great fortune to know over the last eight years," GOP Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said in a statement. "He has served Janesville, southeastern Wisconsin and our nation honorably. We should all be grateful for his sacrifice and understand his desire to be a full-time dad."

In an apparent reference to the struggles facing Ryan, Rep. Trey Gowdy released a statement both praising the retiring speaker and encouraging those who think they can do better to step up.

"To those within Congress who always seemed to have a better idea or a smarter strategy, now is your chance to run for speaker," the South Carolina Republican said in his statement. "To those outside of Congress who always seemed to have a better idea or a smarter strategy, you do not have to be a member of the House to be speaker of the House and hence, now is your chance to run for speaker."

Meadows, of North Carolina, praised Ryan's tenure in a statement after the news broke.

"Speaker Ryan has served our country well for decades as a thoughtful policy leader in the House," he told CNN. "He will be successful in any future endeavor and I wish him all the best."

Even Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House and former speaker herself, found some kind words for her Republican counterpart.

"Despite our differences, I commend his steadfast commitment to our country," Pelosi said in a statement. "During his final months, Democrats are hopeful that he joins us to work constructively to advance better futures for all Americans."

Ryan wants to spend time with his family

According to two sources with direct knowledge, in calls this morning with his leadership team, Ryan made clear much of this decision was about spending time with his family, but also noted that he planned to leave after this Congress and didn't think it was fair to his district or the GOP conference to run for re-election only to leave right after. Sources familiar told CNN that Ryan called McCarthy and Scalise about his retirement before the news broke.

Ryan called Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday morning ahead of his announcement, a source familiar with their conversation told CNN.

The speaker met with members of his caucus on Wednesday morning. Rep. Darrell Issa of California told CNN that Ryan told members he promises to be more than a "Sunday dad" and he cited his family as part of his decision. At one point Wednesday morning, reporters outside the conference room could hear a long applause from inside the meeting.

Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, has been in Congress since 1999 and became House speaker in 2015. Ryan reluctantly ran to replace then-Speaker Boehner of Ohio, who retired after sparring regularly with the most conservative members of his conference, including many members of the House Freedom Caucus.

Some of Ryan's close friends previously told CNN that he might leave office after the 2018 midterms. Ryan said in a January interview with CBS News that re-election was a decision he and his wife were planning to make together in late spring, and in March he denied a rumor that he wouldn't seek re-election.

The news of Ryan's retirement was first reported by Axios.

This story has been updated with additional developments and will continue to update.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 448268

Reported Deaths: 6013
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin931011480
Ramsey40016739
Dakota33072340
Anoka30999364
Washington20164228
Stearns17871187
St. Louis13690241
Scott1195496
Wright11614104
Olmsted1048475
Sherburne821365
Carver694836
Clay653280
Rice606868
Kandiyohi554371
Blue Earth541033
Crow Wing482774
Otter Tail457167
Chisago452732
Benton420186
Winona389646
Douglas374166
Nobles370846
Mower365529
Goodhue347958
Polk328658
McLeod325345
Morrison311744
Beltrami310347
Lyon302236
Becker284939
Itasca284543
Isanti282841
Carlton280043
Steele27379
Pine266713
Freeborn245321
Todd231730
Nicollet224636
Brown215134
Mille Lacs214246
Le Sueur210015
Cass207623
Meeker199733
Waseca189316
Wabasha17083
Martin170026
Roseau165416
Hubbard149338
Redwood139727
Renville137539
Houston135913
Dodge13474
Chippewa131332
Cottonwood127218
Fillmore12355
Wadena120116
Rock110212
Sibley10857
Aitkin108433
Watonwan10668
Faribault105916
Pennington99215
Kanabec97818
Pipestone94423
Yellow Medicine93714
Murray8815
Jackson85610
Swift83418
Pope7385
Marshall70215
Stevens7018
Clearwater68514
Lac qui Parle65716
Lake63715
Wilkin6259
Koochiching59610
Lincoln4841
Big Stone4573
Unassigned43768
Grant4298
Norman4248
Mahnomen4107
Kittson37219
Red Lake3174
Traverse2503
Lake of the Woods1951
Cook1140

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 305606

Reported Deaths: 4278
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk45754449
Linn17795275
Scott15444163
Black Hawk13773236
Woodbury13016175
Johnson1211749
Dubuque11387150
Pottawattamie8992112
Dallas888671
Story869434
Webster469771
Cerro Gordo466768
Sioux455157
Clinton450361
Warren443938
Marshall427761
Buena Vista393429
Muscatine390477
Des Moines381841
Plymouth350368
Wapello344198
Jasper321959
Lee317130
Marion304952
Jones271349
Henry264330
Carroll255434
Bremer245048
Crawford231022
Boone218417
Washington217632
Benton209444
Mahaska193136
Jackson192031
Tama187757
Dickinson186026
Delaware173736
Kossuth173644
Clay168820
Wright164824
Fayette162322
Hamilton160029
Buchanan159923
Winneshiek155719
Harrison155162
Hardin154729
Cedar153219
Clayton151448
Butler148224
Page144715
Floyd139636
Cherokee139027
Mills136416
Lyon135332
Poweshiek132724
Hancock130224
Allamakee127928
Iowa125422
Calhoun12279
Grundy121226
Jefferson120724
Madison12039
Winnebago119429
Mitchell116234
Louisa115030
Cass113341
Chickasaw111612
Sac111215
Emmet110831
Appanoose110538
Union108822
Humboldt105519
Guthrie103024
Shelby102926
Franklin102418
Unassigned9310
Palo Alto9079
Montgomery85622
Keokuk85026
Howard84219
Monroe81218
Clarke7957
Pocahontas77611
Ida74630
Greene6927
Davis69121
Adair68820
Lucas6508
Monona64016
Osceola6409
Worth6113
Taylor5949
Fremont5126
Van Buren49712
Decatur4894
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