Rumors have swirled for months on whether he would step down.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) reportedly plans to tell colleagues Wednesday morning that he will not seek re-election this year, capping off months of rumors that he was mulling stepping down from his leadership post.
Republicans face an uphill battle in November’s midterm elections, with dozens of competitive seats and a record number of resignations and retirements, and Democrats eager to make the election a referendum on both Ryan and President Donald Trump.
Speculation circulated in December over whether Ryan would leave the top House job in 2018 after GOP efforts to push through a massive tax bill ― one of Ryan’s legislative priorities ― or after the midterm elections.
In late March, Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) told a reporter that rumors had been swirling around the capitol that Ryan would soon step down and be replaced by Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).
“You know, [former Speaker] John Boehner said the thing: ‘Hey, I checked all of the boxes I thought were important and I’m moving on to whatever else,’” Amodei told Nevada Newsmakers, referencing what he thought could be Ryan’s decision to leave office.
In response to those reports, aides to both Scalise and Ryan adamantly denied the rumors, and Scalise’s spokeswoman said the lawmaker “fully” supported his colleague to remain speaker.
Ryan reluctantly took on the job of House speaker following the abrupt departure of his predecessor, John Boehner (R-Ohio), in 2015. The Wisconsin lawmaker had a tumultuous tenure, faced with infighting among various factions of the GOP caucus and the political rise of Trump, for which he received much criticism, particularly for his often tepid responses to Trump’s incendiary comments.
But Ryan secured a major win late last year with the passage of an unpopular tax bill he had long touted.
“When people see their withholding improving, when they see the jobs occurring, when they see a simpler tax code, that’s what’s going to produce the results,” Ryan said of the bill’s critics in December. “And results are going to be what makes this popular.”
Twitter users mocked Ryan in February after he used an anecdote about a school secretary in Pennsylvania who saw her pay go up by $1.50 a week to suggest the tax bill was working.
“She said [that] will more than cover her Costco membership for the year,” he tweeted.