Both Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed Thursday that widespread rumors that Ryan will leave Congress after his current term ends are false.
After telling reporters at her daily press briefing that President Donald Trump had immediately called Ryan after reports of his imminent retirement hit the press. According to Sanders, Ryan “assured the president that those were not accurate reports and that they look forward to working together for a long time.”
Ryan himself was more terse in his denial, responding to a shouted question about his departure at his weekly press conference with a simple, “I’m not, no.”
Sources close to Ryan have assured Breitbart News that the rumors are not unfounded. On Thursday, Politico claimed to not have found a single source willing to say they thought Ryan would remain in Congress past January 2019 in the over 30 they interviewed.
CNN, however, reported Thursday that sources close to the Speaker backed up Ryan’s denial at least in the short-term, saying it was unlikely he would resign the Speakership after tax reform is finished.
The speculation over Ryan’s future comes as he sits on the verge of the first major legislative accomplishment of his Republican majority under President Trump: the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Those buying into the speculation he will leave after this term cite his unwillingness to once again share a ticket with Donald Trump, on whom he was never more than lukewarm, and a desire to spend the last years of his children’s childhoods in Wisconsin.
According to a report in The Hill, jockeying for the top spot in the House after Ryan is gone has already begun among Republicans. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), and GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) as well as conservative possibilities Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) of the Republican Study Committee and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) of the Freedom Caucus are all cited.