By Nicholas Stolte || Staff Writer
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) announced April 11th that he has decided not to seek reelection. Despite this announcement, Speaker Ryan intends to serve out the remainder of his term as the Speaker of the House. Ryan claimed he has decided to not to seek reelection strictly so he could spend time with family, though many speculate that he stepped down to avoid the midterm election, where the Democrats have a very good chance of taking the House of Representatives from the Republicans. Ryan reflected on his time as Speaker by saying “I think we’ve achieved a heck of a lot. We all know that I did not seek this job, I took it reluctantly but I have given this job everything that I have.” Ryan celebrated his accomplishments, mainly the recent tax reform bill signed, and lamented he was never able to achieve entitlement reform.
Ryan took over the Speakership in 2015 after John Boehner (R-Ohio) retired due to hostilities with the House Freedom Caucus, a conservative coalition that opposed significant portions of Boehner’s agenda. After the Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) was unable to gain enough support to succeed Boehner, Ryan was chosen as a compromise candidate. His tenure was largely overshadowed by the ascension of Donald Trump to the Presidency, and due to Trump’s unpopularity the Democrats have a seven point lead in the generic congressional ballot. Ryan is one of many high profile Republicans to retire, including Trey Gowdy, Jason Chaffetz, and Darrell Issa. If more high ranking Republicans retire, the Republicans will have a very hard time holding onto the House. Despite the Republican precarious position Ryan received praise from across Washington. President Trump complimented Speaker Ryan on Twitter: “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!” Nancy Pelosi (D-California), the House Minority Leader gave kind words for Ryan as well “Despite our differences, I commend his steadfast commitment to our country.” Pelosi is seeking to take back the Speakership in November, and many Democrats celebrated Ryan’s retirement hoping he is just the first Republican casualty of the so-called “blue wave” to come.
Talks of who will replace Ryan as the highest-ranking Republican in the House began immediately after his announcement. Kevin McCarthy, the current Majority Leader, is seen as the favorite, and has the support of the White House and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana). Speaker Ryan has offered his support for McCarthy as well. After the debacle in 2015, it is unclear that McCarthy will have the votes to replace Ryan, and there is a chance Scalise may take the position instead. The House Freedom Caucus will likely use the chaos to gain leverage in negotiations, as they seek to push the Republicans in the House towards their tea party ideology. Despite this, McCarthy remains confident. McCarthy remains a close friend and advisor of President Trump, and it is unlikely the Freedom Caucus would seek a fight with the President.
Junior Nicholas Stolte is a staff writer. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.