Transcript: Paul Ryan announces his retirement from Congress

- April 11, 2018

This is the full transcript of Paul Ryan's press conference on April 11, 2018 where he announced his retirement.

Q: “Will you remain as speaker?”

Paul Ryan: “Yes.”

Q: “You have no plans to call an early leadership election?”

Ryan: “Correct.”

Q: “You think it's tenable for you guys to have a six-month leadership election?”

Ryan: “I do. I know most speakers don't go out on their own terms. Tip O'Neill was probably the last one to do that, but Harry Reid last session did this. He announced he wasn't going to run again, and he stayed on as Senate leader. So yes, that's what I'm going to do.”

Q: (inaudible) “ … long-sought tax cuts and tax reform legislation approved, which you say you'll consider to be your greatest achievement. However, you’re not sticking around for its biggest consequence, which is trillion dollar deficits as far as the Congressional Budget Office’s eye can see. What is your response to that?”

Ryan: “Entitlement reform is the one other great thing I've spent most of my career working on. I'm extremely proud of the fact that the House passed the biggest entitlement reform bill ever considered in the House of Representatives. Do I regret the fact that the Senate did not pass this? Yes. But I feel from all the budgets that I've passed, normalizing entitlement reform, pushing the cause of entitlement reform and the house passing entitlement reform, I'm very proud of that fact. But yeah, of course more work needs to be done, and it really is entitlements. That's where the work needs to be done, and I’m going to keep fighting for that. Let go over here.”

Q: “Mr. Speaker, did the chance that you might not be speaker come November if the Democrats possibly take the House factor at all into this decision?”

Ryan: “No. None whatsoever, actually. Look, you all know me. 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. This really was two things. 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 just something I consciously can’t do. And that's really it right there.”

Q: “Do you worry about the impact of your announcement on the 2018 midterms and perhaps sending a signal that the House is lost to Republicans?”

Ryan: “I gave it some consideration, but I really do not believe whether I stay or go in 2019 is going to affect a person's individual race for Congress. I really don't think a person's race for Congress is going to hinge on whether Paul Ryan is speaker or not. So I really don't think it affects it. Look, if we do our jobs, which we are, we're going to be fine as a majority. I'm grateful for the president to give us this chance to actually get this stuff done. I’m grateful that we have unified government that the president with his victory gave us so we get all these big things done. We're going to have a great record to run on. We have a great economy, great accomplishments, more to do. And I really don't think that the American people are going to want to have the gridlock that the Democrats are promising. So I’m confident we can run through the tape and we can get this done.”

Q: “On the president, he has been openly talking about firing Bob Mueller, potentially firing the deputy attorney general. What are your thoughts on that?”

Ryan: “My thoughts haven't changed. I think they should be allowed to do their jobs. We have a rule of law in this country, and that’s a principle we all uphold. I have no reason to believe that's going to happen. I have assurances that’s not because I've been talking to people in the White House about it.”

Q: (inaudible) “ … replace you once you retire? Who do you think would be good to lead the conference? Would McCarthy be able to do it? Would Scalise?”

Ryan: “I have great confidence in this leadership team. That's one thing that I’m really proud of. Obviously, I came with a big gulf in leadership when I came here. I think we have a fantastic leadership team. I have more thoughts on this. I think this is probably not the right time to get into that, and I'll share those thoughts later. That election is in November, so it’s not something we have to sweat right now.”

Q: “To what extent was your decision influenced by the way President Trump has changed the character of Washington and the character of the Republican Party?”

Ryan: “Not at all. Like you said, I'm grateful for the president for giving us this opportunity to do big things to get this country on the right track. So the fact that he gave us this ability to get all this stuff done makes me proud of the accomplishments that I've been a contributor to, makes me satisfied that I've made a big difference. And he has given us that chance. So I'm grateful to him for that and that's really how I see it. Thank you very much, everybody.”


 

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