Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives has announced that he will not be seeking re-election. He has stated that he will be finishing his term and return to his home state in Wisconsin.
Reports have suggested that Ryan has a complicated relationship with the US President Donald Trump and that played a role in his decision to not seek re-election.
US President Donald Trump is a polarizing figure in world politics. He has found himself being criticized for his actions and his statements in the past. He has been accused of sexism, misogyny, racism and more. Business leaders like Elon Musk have left councils within the administration due to statements made by Trump. His administration has also been criticized for being chaotic and controversial. Key members of the administration have left the administration since it came together in 2017. Some of the people who left or were dismissed include Steve Bannon, former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Anthony Scaramucci, former Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Hope Hick and more. In 2018, people like Rob Porter, National Security Advisor General McMaster, Gary Cohn Chief Economic Advisor also left.
Considered as one of the leaders of the Republican party, Paul Davis Ryan Jr.is the 54th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives since 2015. He has been the U.S. Representative for Wisconsin's 1st congressional district since 1999. In 2012, he was the Republican Party nominee for Vice President of the United States, running alongside former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Ultimately, they lost to the Democratic nominee, Barack Obama.
He was previously chair of the House Ways and Means Committee from January 3 to October 29, 2015, and, before that, chair of the House Budget Committee from 2011 to 2015. Ryan, together with Democratic Party U.S. Senator Patty Murray, negotiated the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. On October 29, 2015, Ryan was elected to replace John Boehner as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives following Boehner's retirement, becoming the first person from Wisconsin to hold this position.
Complicated relationship with the President
During the 2016 US Presidential campaign, Ryan made it clear that he disapproved of the then nominee Donald Trump. After an audio tape of Trump using lewd language to describe women surfaced, Ryan distanced himself. In a statement he stated, “I am sickened by what I heard today. Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified. I hope Mr. Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for women than this clip suggests. In the meantime, he is no longer attending tomorrow’s event in Wisconsin.”
For his part, President Donald Trump has also spoken unfavorably of Paul Ryan. He once described him as “disloyal.” After Trump won the elections, both men tried to mend the relationship. Ryan, described as a policy wonk of the Republican party has struggled to comment on the President’s controversial tweets and statements over time. He was among those who championed the massive tax cuts that were passed in 2017.
After months of speculation, in April 2018, Paul Ryan announced that he will not seek re-election in 2018 mid-term elections. He announced that he will be retiring to spend more time with his family especially his children. A statement from Brendan Buck, counselor to Speaker Ryan stated, “This morning Speaker Ryan shared with his colleagues that this will be his last year as a member of the House. He will serve out his full term, run through the tape, and then retire in January. After nearly twenty years in the House, the speaker is proud of all that has been accomplished and is ready to devote more of his time to being a husband and a father. While he did not seek the position, he told his colleagues that serving as speaker has been the professional honor of his life, and he thanked them for the trust they placed in him. He will discuss his decision at a press conference immediately following the member meeting."
The timing of his announcement came as a surprise. Lawmakers had expected Ryan might leave Congress if Republicans were to lose control of the House in November’s midterm elections. Ryan himself stated, “You all know that I did not seek this job. I took it reluctantly. But I have given this job everything. I have no regrets whatsoever for having accepted this responsibility. But the truth is it's easy for it to take over everything in your life and you can't just let that happen.”
According to Axios, which broke the story, said that his decision was also motivated by his frustration with the president. The story stated, “Friends say that after Ryan passed tax reform, his longtime dream, he was ready to step out of a job that has become endlessly frustrating, in part because of President Trump.” One Republican who has been quoted said, “This is a Titanic, tectonic shift. … This is going to make every Republican donor believe the House can’t be held.”
Some note that given that Ryan is leaving on his own terms, the Republican party may not be as affected during the mid-term elections.
Our assessment is that with Ryan’s departure, the Republican party is heading towards the mid-term elections in a weakened state. To put this in perspective, it should be noted that a total of 39 GOP members will not be not running for re-election — 24 are retiring from public office altogether, while 15 are seeking other positions. In contrast, only 18 members of the Democratic party are not running for re-election to the House.
Ryan’s departure not only leaves a leadership chasm in the Republican party but it also arrives during a period when the Mueller investigation is expanding its scope. Is it possible that Ryan himself (once considered the rising star within the Republican party) may be mounting a challenge during the 2020 US presidential primaries? Time will tell.