(CNN) — House Speaker Paul Ryan is not seeking re-election and will retire from Congress after this year, his office announced Wednesday.
“This morning Speaker Ryan shared with his colleagues that this will be his last year as a member of the House,” Ryan aide Brendan Buck said in a statement. “He will serve out his full term, run through the tape, and then retire in January. After nearly twenty years in the House, the speaker is proud of all that has been accomplished and is ready to devote more of his time to being a husband and a father.”
According to two sources with direct knowledge, in calls this morning with his leadership team, Ryan made clear much of this decision was about spending time with his family, but also noted that he planned to leave after this Congress and didn’t think it was fair to his district or the GOP conference to run for re-election only to leave right after.
A source familiar told CNN that Ryan called House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy about his retirement before the news broke.
Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, has been in Congress since 1999 and became House speaker in 2015.
Some of Ryan’s close friends previously told CNN that he might leave office after the 2018 midterms. Ryan said in a January interview with CBS News that re-election was a decision he and his wife were planning to make together in late spring, and in March he denied a rumor that he wouldn’t seek re-election.
Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the third ranking GOP member in the House, suggested to Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” that Ryan would be addressing his retirement later on Wednesday.
“There’s speculation and I’ve spoken with Paul and ultimately the speaker’s going to be giving some comments later today,” the Louisiana Republican said. House GOP leadership is scheduled to have its weekly news conference on Capitol Hill at 10 a.m. ET Wednesday.
The news of Ryan’s retirement was first reported by Axios.
Who will replace Ryan?
While it has long been expected that Ryan would leave after the 115th Congress, sources close to him have said for weeks they expected he would run again in order to raise money for the party and not throw his conference into a leadership battle. Ryan “recently” came to the conclusion that wasn’t the best path for him, one of the sources said.
McCarthy and Scalise of Louisiana are among the contenders congressional observers see as most likely to replace Ryan.
Scalise demurred when asked if he would run for the speakership.
“We’re getting way ahead of ourselves. Obviously, there’s a lot of speculation, but I’ve been real clear for a long time, I don’t want to get into speculation,” he told Fox News, adding, “We’ve got to make sure we keep the majority.”
Scalise told Politico in March that he would not rule out running for the speakership if Ryan were to retire.
One source with the conservative bloc, the House Freedom Caucus, says McCarthy is, at this early stage, likely to have the support to become the next Speaker with the group’s chairman Rep. Mark Meadows a front-runner to become Majority Leader.
Meadows, of North Carolina, praised Ryan’s tenure in a statement after the news broke.
“Speaker Ryan has served our country well for decades as a thoughtful policy leader in the House,” he told CNN. “He will be successful in any future endeavor and I wish him all the best.”