House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday that President Donald Trump's election victory enabled Republicans to pass legislation that included sweeping tax reform and repealing the Obamacare individual mandate.
"He is the one who gave us, with his victory, this ability to get all this work done," the Wisconsin Republican told Dana Perino on Fox News after announcing he would not seek an eighth term this November. "I'm very excited about that.
"We didn't actually know each other," he said of the president when he was elected in November 2015. "It's just knowing each other.
"We spend a great deal of time with each other. We speak on the phone constantly.
"We just developed a good friendship. We developed a good rapport.
"The reason our relationship is so good is we now know each other so good," he said.
Ryan, 48, capped months of speculation on Capitol Hill by announcing he was retiring from the House at the end of his term because he was setting new priorities in his life and with his family.
"What I realize is if I'm here for one more term, my kids will only have ever known me as a weekend dad," Ryan told a news conference earlier Wednesday. "I just can't let that happen.
"So, I will be setting new priorities in my life, but I will also be leaving incredibly proud of what we've accomplished."
Ryan was first elected to the House in 1998 and was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's running mate in the 2012 election.
He chaired two powerful congressional committees, the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Budget Committee.
Ryan was elected speaker in 2015 after the tumultuous tenure of Ohio Rep. John Boehner, who faced the ire of conservative Republicans who openly challenged his leadership.
He and his wife, Janna, a tax attorney and corporate lobbyist, have been married since 2000 and have three children, ages 16, 15, and 13.
Back in Wisconsin, however, Democrat Randy Bryce announced last summer he would challenge Ryan in November and has so far raised $4.75 million for his effort.
Ryan told Perino the House had passed more than 500 bills on his watch, lamenting as "regrettable" that many died in the Senate because of the 60-vote majority rule.
"Unfortunately, we have not been able to get all of these bills through the Senate onto the president's desk because of the filibuster," he said. "That's just a regrettable thing.
"All these things that we fought for are alive and well in the House," he added. "We've gotten an incredible amount done.
"Just the things we've gotten done in the last 15 months is something that usually takes Congress four, five years to do."
Ryan dismissed criticism he was deserting the Republican Party as it was facing a tough re-election season.
He makes the 38th GOP House member to announce a retirement or a decision to not seek another term. Eighteen Democrats said they are not seeking re-election.
Democrats need to pick up 25 House seats to regain the majority, which they lost to Republicans in 2011.
Ryan told Perino that "not at all" was he abandoning the party.
"I'm going to keep doing the fundraising," he said. "I have broken every record any speaker has ever had on fundraising.
"I don't think anybody's election is going to hinge on whether or not Paul Ryan is Speaker of the House," he added.
"We're going to have a strong record to run on. We'll have the resources to communicate our story."
He attributed many of the retirements to term limits on committee chairmanships — and because "we've gotten a lot done.
"We've done tax reform for the first time in generation. We helped the military. We helped the economy.
"We're on to workforce development and infrastructure.
"We ran on an agenda in 2016 — and we've been executing that agenda, even with the Senate as slow as they are."
Ryan's retirement will set off a leadership battle for Speaker, most immediately pitting House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California against Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
Ryan declined to speculate on the race, but told Perino: "We really feel like we're leaving the majority in good hands to Republicans because we have a really good record to run on."
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