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Faith & Family: House Speaker Paul Ryan Retiring, Can't Play 'Weekend Dad' Anymore

04-11-2018
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WASHINGTON – House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced Wednesday he will not be seeking another term in Congress, noting that he has "no regrets" about leaving the job because he says he's given his all.

"You realize something when you take this job," the 48-year-old lawmaker told reporters. "It's a big job with a lot riding on you and you feel it."

"You realize you hold the office for a small part of our history… and I think we have achieved a heck of a lot," said Ryan.

"I did not seek this job. I took it reluctantly. But I have given this job everything I have," he continued. "To be clear, I am not resigning. I will serve my full term as I was elected to do."

More Than a 'Weekend Dad'

Ryan explained the driving force behind his decision to leave was the need to spend more time with his family, saying he wanted his children to remember him as being more than just a "weekend dad."

"The truth is, it is easy for it to take over everything in your life and you can't just let that happen because there are other things in life that can be fleeting as well – namely your time as a husband and a father," he said.

Ryan, who lost his dad when he was 16, told CBN News earlier this year he calls his kids each night he’s away to pray with them before they go to bed.

“I could not do my job as a husband, as a father, as the speaker of the House without my faith. It is indispensable. It is an integral part of my life. I start my day in prayer; I end my day in prayer,” he said.

Still, there's speculation the Wisconsin lawmaker's tumultuous relationship with President Donald Trump may also have factored into his decision to not seek reelection.

Vox reports that since Trump took office, the two men have found themselves at odds over issues like immigration, trade, and entitlement reform.

Most recently, the men butted heads over the $1.3 trillion spending bill, which Ryan played a major role in crafting. Specifically, Trump slammed Congress for failing to provide funds for the president's US-Mexico border wall and a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

They did, however, find common ground on healthcare, tax reform, and defense spending – something both men touted as victories in the recent spending bill and tax deal.

"I see these as lasting victories that make this country more prosperous and more secure for decades to come," Ryan said.

He also shot down the notion that Trump had anything to do with his decision to leave.

"I'm grateful to the president for giving us this opportunity to do big things to get this country on the right track," the House speaker told reporters.

A Man of 'Deep Faith'

Meanwhile, well wishes are pouring in for the departing speaker, starting with Trump, who suggested the Wisconsin lawmaker would leave behind a positive legacy.

"Speaker Paul Ryan is a truly good man… He will leave a legacy of achievement that nobody can question. We are with you Paul!" the president tweeted Wednesday.

Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, echoed that sentiment.

"Paul has been instrumental in achieving historic reforms - from an overhaul of our tax code to bringing accountability to the Department of Veterans Affairs - and I'm excited to see what we achieve in these final months of his speakership," he said in a statement.

"Paul Ryan has made no secret where his highest priority is, and that's in Janesville, Wisconsin, with his wife Janna and their children," he continued. "I'm sure this decision was a difficult and personal one for him, and I wish him the best."

Timothy Head, executive director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, also had positive words for Ryan, calling him a man of "deep faith" with a "long-standing record" in championing family values.

"Speaker Paul Ryan has served his nation and the people of Wisconsin's First Congressional District with honor and distinction and people of faith across the country thank him for his years of service," he said in a statement. "As a man of deep faith, Speaker Ryan leaves office with a long-standing record of achievement for pro-life, pro-family policies, and helped provide economic opportunity for all Americans."

What Ryan's Departure Means for Midterms

News of Ryan's departure comes as the GOP prepares to fight off what they fear may be a "blue wave" in this fall's midterm elections.

"Stay tuned for more retirements as Republicans increasingly realize that their midterm prospects are doomed," CNBC quoted Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Tyler Law, who suggested Ryan "sees what is coming in November."

But Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Brad Courtney dismissed such predictions, saying, "Wisconsin Republicans are committed to keeping this congressional seat and I am confident that our eventual nominee will uphold Paul Ryan's legacy of principled, conservative leadership."

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