Paul Ryan — who only reluctantly agreed to be Speaker of the House when the GOP was desperate to find a consensus candidate — could be on the verge of giving up his position as soon as the Republican tax bill is completed.
According to The Huffington Post:
“When the House Freedom Caucus gathered Monday night, members spent part of their meeting discussing a theory circulating on Capitol Hill and among the downtown Christmas parties that Ryan may believe he’s harpooned his personal white whale of tax reform and decide he’s finished.
“‘Is it a Boehner-meeting-the-pope moment?’ one Freedom Caucus member rhetorically asked HuffPost, referring to Ryan’s predecessor, John Boehner (R-Ohio), who hosted Pope Francis for a joint address to Congress in September 2015 and then announced his retirement the next morning.”
The reason Ryan wants out is simple: He simply doesn’t enjoy the job or the challenge of trying to unify disparate factions of the GOP in order to get things done:
“Lawmakers and aides who spoke to HuffPost on the condition of anonymity over the last week say they believe this is still a job Ryan doesn’t enjoy. On top of ruling over a GOP conference that’s just as unruly as when Boehner was speaker, Ryan has had to navigate Donald Trump ― a task that’s left him looking feckless to the left and like an enemy of the president to the right.”
Ryan may also be reading the tea leaves and realize that Republicans are headed for a disaster in the 2018 midterm election. Recent losses by the GOP in Virginia and Alabama, combined with Trump’s low approval ratings, could set the stage for a wave election that sees Ryan and his colleagues in the minority.
However, if indeed Ryan does step down, it could hurt the GOP financially:
“Ryan’s fundraising prowess has helped GOP campaign accounts stay flush with cash in an upcoming election cycle that could be tough for Republicans.”
Perhaps more troubling for Republicans is the fact that there’s no clear replacement if Ryan does indeed decide he’s tired of being speaker. No matter what happens, it appears that Ryan and GOP have some very tough days ahead.
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