Blow to Republicans as Speaker Paul Ryan bows out

House Paul Ryan speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington U.S

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says tax cuts passed a year ago will secure House Speaker Paul Ryan's legacy.

Scot Ross, director of the liberal group One Wisconsin Now, said, "When you look up "white privilege" in the dictionary, you see Paul Ryan's photo".

But it's no wonder the leadership battle is already underway, since the speaker's job is perhaps the most powerful position in Congress and second in line to succeed the president.

Speculation over Ryan's future on Capitol Hill has been swirling since Politico reported in December that the speaker saw his "wild Washington journey coming to an end".

The chairman of the NRCC, Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, praised Ryan as a fighter for change and as a key leader in the battle to pass a comprehensive tax reform package a year ago.

Scalise, a former Louisiana state legislator who's worked his way up to be the No. 3 Republican in the House, hasn't directly declared any intention of running for the speakership.

With the tax law enacted, Ryan reportedly decided it was the right time to step away.

He said he meant to "run through the tape" in finishing out his term, and he added he believed he would leave in January with the Republican majority intact and with a "very bright future".

Ryan also said he has been assured by the White House that Trump does not intend to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating potential collusion between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russian Federation, or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller's probe. "Yes, if we keep the majority, then the Republican Speaker", Ryan responded.

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Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, has been in Congress since 1999 and became House speaker in 2015. "I really don't think a persons race for Congress is going to hinge on whether Paul Ryan is speaker or not", Ryan told reporters Wednesday.

Several lawmakers are likely to compete to succeed him, including the No. 2 House Republican, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and the No. 3 Republican, Whip Steve Scalise.

He's the Wisconsin "wonk" who came to prominence as Mitt Romney's vice presidential candidate in 2012, he's been in the House since '99, and he rose to Speaker-almost reluctantly, and for very good reasons-in 2015 after the retirement of John Boehner.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) said that Ryan's retirement was a sign of defeat for Republicans in November. Ryan will serve out his full term and informed fellow Republicans of his plans Wednesday during a meeting of the GOP conference.

Shortly before Ryan met with reporters, President Trump said on Twitter the outgoing speaker would leave a "legacy of achievement".

He informed his GOP colleagues he was not running for re-election so he could spend more time with his three children - their childhood is quickly ending, he said, and he wants to be a dad.

CNN reports his decision was rooted in dedicating more time towards his family. This time, though, it's for real.

The speaker called extended family and a few close friends Tuesday night and alerted a few staff. Steil did not immediately return an email seeking comment. He had almost $2.3 million in the bank at the end of the first quarter.

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