Government

Congressmen React to Paul Ryan’s Announcement

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Regional members of Congress say they respect Speaker Paul Ryan’s decision not to run for reelection. However, the announcement has them looking to the midterm elections and the immediate future of GOP leadership.

The Wisconsin Republican and 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee announced Wednesday morning that he would not seek reelection to his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Though he acknowledged he accepted the post reluctantly, succeeding Ohio Republican John Boehner after his resignation in 2015, Ryan called serving as speaker “one of the two greatest honors” in his life.

“The job provides incredible opportunities, but the truth is it’s easy for it to take over everything in your life. And you can’t just let that happen,” he said. “Because there are other things in life that can be fleeting as well: namely your time as a husband and a dad, which is the other great honor of my life.”

Speaker Ryan’s decision not to run for reelection signifies the troubles Republicans face in this year’s midterms, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan said. Ryan, D-13 Ohio, noted on Twitter that the speaker was the 43rd Republican to announce he was leaving Congress.

“While I respect his public service, many of the policies he fought to advance were deeply harmful to the American people. Democrats can do better,” he continued.

In an email requesting further comment, Ryan said the resignation was “a clear sign of the Democratic wave” coming this year. Because of midterm trends that typically favor the party that doesn’t hold the White House, special elections losses for the GOP and President Donald Trump’s historic unpopularity, political analysts predict Republicans will lose their majority in the House and possibly the Senate as well.

“Speaker Ryan sees which way the wind is blowing,” Ryan said.

Congress “achieved much” under the departing speaker’s leadership, including tax and regulatory reforms and rebuilding America’s military readiness, U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson said in an email response for comment.

Ryan served the people of the United States and his constituents in Wisconsin “with distinction and integrity.” But as a father and grandfather, Johnson said he understands his decision to prioritize spending time with his family.

“It’s an admirable decision,” he said. “But clearly Speaker Ryan’s departure will leave a big leadership void. Over the coming months, I will work with my colleagues to encourage other strong leaders to step forward to guide us through these difficult times.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-3 Pa., also praised Ryan, with whom he served on the House Ways and Means Committee prior to Ryan’s election to the speakership. He learned from Ryan during a GOP conference meeting earlier that morning that he was going to announce he wouldn’t seek reelection.

“I hate to see him go, but there’s a time for everything,” and he has “the right perspective,” he said. “It’s not good to be a weekend dad or a weekend husband.”

Kelly said the “biggest disconnect” he has seen since coming to Washington is the public doesn’t recognize that members of Congress are people who have families themselves, and that it is acceptable to “bash them.” He has always held Ryan “in the highest regard” personally, he said, and praised his intellect. “He is deeper than the Pacific Ocean when it comes to policy.”

Kelly said he wasn’t concerned about Ryan’s departure from a party perspective.

“I don’t worry so much for the Republican Party as I worry for the status of the country,” he said. Regardless of political affiliation, the country is in “some very dangerous times,” with many Americans doubting “some very iconic agencies,” and having lost “faith and trust” in a model of government that the rest of the world looks to.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.