Mich. Republicans praise Ryan as he plans exit
Washington — Michigan Republicans on Wednesday praised the tenure of House Speaker Paul Ryan after the Wisconsin congressman announced he will retire at year’s end after 20 years in the U.S. House.
Ryan told his GOP colleagues on Wednesday morning that, while he didn’t initially want the job of speaker, he was grateful for their selecting him in 2015. Now, it’s time to go home to his family, he said.
Ryan rejected the suggestion that the possibility of Democrats winning the House majority in November factored into his decision. “Not at all,” he told reporters at the Capitol.
“I didn’t take this job to get the gavel in the first place. I’m not a guy who thinks about it like that,” Ryan said.
“I have accomplished much of what I came here to do, and my kids aren’t getting any younger. And if I stay, they’re only going to know me as a ‘Weekend Dad,’ and that’s really not something I can consciously do.”
Michigan GOP lawmakers thanked Ryan for his service and wished him luck.
St. Joseph Rep. Fred Upton, Michigan’s senior Republican in Congress, said Ryan’s decision was “not surprising,” noting that his three teenage children have seen him commute to Washington nearly every week of their lives.
“I was among those who urged a very reluctant Paul to step up and accept the nomination to become Speaker of the House because he is a bridge builder within our caucus,” Upton said in a statement.
“His long-term priority — making our country more competitive by lowering the tax rates for all — has now been enacted. His family wants him back, and I respect his decision and will always be grateful for his friendship and positive leadership.”
Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, praised Ryan’s “visionary leadership,” saying he had “stayed true to his Midwest roots.”
“The fact that the purpose for his retirement from Congress is for the benefit of his teenage children and dear wife should speak volumes about the character of this exceptional public servant,” Walberg said in a statement.
Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, thanked Ryan for his “leadership, friendship, and dedication to the conservative movement,” while looking ahead to a six-month campaign for the next House speaker.
“While I’m sad to see the announcement from my friend @SpeakerRyan that he is not running again, I know we have some amazing leaders behind him. All the best and blessings to you and your family on your new adventure!” Huizenga tweeted.
Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, called Ryan a “true public servant” with many accomplishments during his time in the House.
“I’m especially grateful for his vision and leadership through the process of modernizing our tax code and his work to rebuild our nation’s military,” Bishop said in a statement.
“While he will be sorely missed, first and foremost Paul is a family man. We all admire him for that and absolutely respect his dedication to spending more time with his children.”
Michigan’s nine Republican House members were mostly steadfast supporters of Ryan. Only Rep. Justin Amash of the Grand Rapids area tended to break ranks with the speaker — much as he did with former Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.
Rep. Dave Trott, R-Birmingham, thanked Ryan, saying his legacy “in the People’s House is without question — honorable. I wish him all the best in his next endeavors.”
Trott is also retiring from Congress at the end of this term.
Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, said Ryan has been an “outstanding leader” for the country, answering the call to take on the “incredibly difficult job of Speaker” nearly three years ago.
“Since then, he has increased funding for our veterans and our military, and led the fight for historic tax reform with lower rates and a $2,000 child tax credit that helps hardworking Michigan families,” Moolenaar said in a statement. “I wish Speaker Ryan and his family all the best.”
Ryan acknowledged that “most speakers don’t go out on their own terms,” but noted that former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada had done so last term. It’s unclear whether Ryan will endorse a successor.
He rejected the idea that his departure may send a signal that the House is lost to Republicans in the fall midterm elections.
“I really do not believe that whether I stay or go in 2019 is going to affect an individual person’s race for Congress,” Ryan said. “If we do our jobs – which we are – we’re going to be fine as a majority.”
Rep. Justin Amash, a Republican representing the Grand Rapids area, has criticized Ryan for not permitting more open votes on amendments, not giving members enough time to review legislation before voting, and for backing massive spending bills adding billions of dollars to the deficit.
“The speaker has not been protecting the institution. You need a speaker in there who is an institutionalist, who cares about the institution first, who is not a partisan,” Amash recently told the libertarian magazine Reason.
“Let Republicans and Democrats and others offer their amendments, and let’s have votes on all sorts of things, substantive things, not just post offices, like they do now.”