Speaker Paul Ryan is denying rumors that his retirement is imminent. The latest version of the rumor purports that Ryan will retire within 30-60 days and that Louisiana Republican Steve Scalise, currently the Majority Whip, will become the new Speaker of the House.
The new rumor is traced to Nevada Republican Mark Amodei, who told Nevada Newsmakers, “The rumor mill is Paul Ryan is getting ready to resign in the next 30 to 60 days and that Steve Scalise will be the new speaker.”
Amodei undercut his own rumor when he added, “Now that's interesting because nobody has talked to members how they're going to vote, or maybe they've talked to all the members but me, so I don't know.”
While noting that Ryan “wants to play on the national stage in some capacity or another.” Amodei continued, “I'm speculating from at least as far away as you are, and my speculation is this: The White House and Paul Ryan would probably not be a great fit.” He added, “I would be very surprised if there were open arms at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue for 'come on into the administration, Mr. Cheese Guy.'”
Speaker Ryan's office flatly denied the rumor, telling CNN, “The speaker is not resigning.”
A statement from Rep. Scalise's office also expressed support for Speaker Ryan, saying, “Whip Scalise is proud to serve alongside Speaker Ryan, and fully supports him to remain speaker. Our whole leadership team is focused on working with President (Donald) Trump to deliver more conservative wins for the country, and also ensuring we keep the majority so we can continue implementing President Trump's agenda that is getting our economy back on track.”
Rumors of Ryan's retirement first surfaced in December when Politico reported that Ryan would resign after the midterm elections. In January, Ryan, who has not filed for re-election, told CBS News that running for re-election would be a decision he would make with his wife. Candidates in Wisconsin have until June 1 to file for ballot access.
It is common knowledge that Ryan would rather be at home with his family than living in Washington. Ryan never really wanted the speaker job, preferring to work on budgetary policy instead. In the aftermath of John Boehner's resignation, the divided GOP caucus couldn't find another Republican to unify behind.
While Ryan never seemed to be fully on board the Trump train, he has shown an ability to work with the president to advance legislation. Last year's landmark tax reform was a personal triumph for Ryan, the fiscally conservative policy wonk.
If Ryan elects to stay after the midterms, his already tough job will likely get tougher assuming that Republicans are even able to keep control of the House. A wave of retirements, President Trump's unpopularity and the law of averages are likely to combine to evict Mr. Ryan from the speaker's seat. An announcement that Ryan is leaving prior to the midterms would embolden Democrats and make it more difficult for Ryan to raise funds and support other Republican candidates. Whether he would elect to continue in Congress as a rank-and-file Republican is an open question, but any formal announcements of retirement are unlikely to come before the November elections.
Ryan is a man who seems to be driven by duty. His congressional career was based on duty to his country and the next generation to combat the debt and entitlement crisis. It is likely that Ryan's sense of duty won't allow him to leave Congress before he tackles entitlement reform.
Originally published on The Resurgent