In a major political development in the United States Congress, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan announced on Wednesday that he will not run for re-election.
Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin who has served in the House since 1999, will see out the rest of his term before retiring in January for personal reasons.
“The truth is, it is easy for it to take over everything in your life and you can’t just let that happen because there are other things in life that can be fleeting as well: namely your time as a husband and a father,” said the 48-year-old Ryan, who cited wanting to spend more time with his family as the reason for his retirement.
The announcement comes as a blow to the Republican Party. According to the U.S. House of Representatives Press Gallery, more than 40 other House Republicans have announced that they will either be retiring or seeking other office ahead of this November’s key midterm elections.
The Democrats need to win 23 new seats to take a majority in the House, the lower chamber of the U.S. Congress.
Ryan was seen by many fellow Republicans as a steady hand in the often turbulent Donald Trump presidency, and he has been instrumental in turning the party’s agenda into tangible legislative action since he became House speaker in 2015.
In a press conference Wednesday morning, Ryan pointed to the 2017 tax reform bill and the rolling back of banking regulations as parts of his legacy.
“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!” President Trump tweeted.
Ryan also received kinds words from one of his greatest political foes, former speaker and current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“The Speaker has been an avid advocate for his point of view and for the people of his district,” said Pelosi in a statement. “Despite our differences, I commend his steadfast commitment to our country.”
In the aftermath of Ryan’s retirement, Republicans now have to decide who will replace him, a distraction they could do without as the November midterms approach. The initial frontrunners for the position appear to be House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, but the successor will likely not be known for some time.
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