United States Speaker of the House Paul Ryan announces retirement

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Current United States Speaker of the House and 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan announced Wednesday he will not seek reelection and plans to retire from the U.S. House of Representatives when his term expires in January.

File photo of Paul Ryan, 2013.
Image: US Congress.

"We all know that I did not seek this job, I took it reluctantly, but I have given this job everything I have and I have no regret whatsoever in accepting this responsibility," Ryan told the press. Ryan took over the Speaker position after John Boehner retired in 2015. Ryan cited wanting to spend more time with his three children. Some reports suggested he was also disillusioned with the Trump presidency. Ryan contradicted this in public: "I'm grateful to the president for giving us this opportunity to do big things to get this country on the right track," he said. According to Axios, Ryan considered last December's restructuring of the U.S. tax code to be the most important accomplishment during his time as Speaker.

President Trump said via 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!"

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer praised Ryan as "a good man who is always true to his word" and said "[w]ith his newfound political freedom, I hope the Speaker uses his remaining time in Congress to break free from the hard-right factions of his caucus that have kept Congress from getting real things done."

Not all reactions to Ryan's departure were admiring. While various Democrats and others have opposed Ryan for his Republican views, many Republicans have criticized what they describe as a lack of support for President Trump's projects, such as the US Mexico border wall Trump has proposed to build on the U.S. border with Mexico. Far-right media outlet Breitbart News described Ryan on Tuesday as "the leader of the globalist wing of the Republican Party," citing his "pro-immigration, wage-crushing, big business-first record, whereby American workers have been left behind by multinational free trade and mass immigration." Fox News commentator Sebastian Gorka tweeted "GOOD RIDDANCE." Amongst late-night comedians, Stephen Colbert of The Late Show called him "CrossFit Dracula" in a reference to his well-documented fondness for fitness programs: "He said today he wants to spend more time with his wife and kids. Which, of course, is what he calls his biceps." Jimmy Fallon of The Tonight Show added "House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that he is retiring from Congress. He said he wants to spend more time with his children at home, and less time with the child in the White House."

Paul Ryan currently represents a district in southeastern Wisconsin. As of January, he will have served twenty years in the United States Congress.

According to Business Insider, waiting until January of next year would push Ryan into a slightly higher pension bracket within the Federal Employees Retirement System because his time as Speaker will give him three years at a sustained salary of US$223,500. If he retires as planned, he would be eligible to draw noticeably more annually than if he retired sooner.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, asked by Fox News whether he would run for Ryan's position as Speaker, responded with a reference to the upcoming 2018 midterm elections, "We're getting way ahead of ourselves. [...] We've got to make sure we keep the majority."

In November, one third of the U.S. Senate and the entire House of Representatives are up for re-election. The Republicans currently have a majority in both houses of congress, but would lose control of the House if the Democrats gained 23 out of its 435 seats. Close to 30 Republicans have announced they would be retiring this year. BBC analyst Anthony Zurcher speculates Ryan may be retiring now to preserve his reputation for a presidential run sometime in the future.

In the U.S. government, the Speaker of the House automatically assumes the presidency if the president and vice president are both killed or incapacitated. The Speaker is elected by the members of the House of Representatives, and so is usually a member of whichever of the two main political parities happens to have the majority that session.


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