House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday confirmed he will not seek re-election in November, telling a press conference that he has decided to set 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 said. "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 explained that his own father died when he was 16, the same age his daughter is now, "and I just don't want to be one of those people looking back at my life, thinking I spent time with my kids when I know if I spend another term they will only know me as a weekend father."
The Wisconsin Republican, who was first elected to the House in 1998 and became speaker in 2015, pointed out that he reluctantly took the gavel, and had not sought the job, but he still gave it "everything that I have."
"You realize something when you take this job," said Ryan. "It's a big job with a lot riding on you and you feel it but you also know this is a job that does not last forever. You realize that you hold the office for just a small part of our history. So you better make the most of it. It's fleeting, and that inspires you to do big things. On that score, I think we have achieved a heck of a lot."
He described being speaker of one of the two great honors of his life, with the other being his family.
"The job provides incredible opportunities but the truth is, it is easy for it to take over everything in your life, and you can't just let that happen," said Ryan. "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."
To be clear, he added, he is not resigning, and it would not have been honest for him to seek re-election to only retire next year.
"I will be retiring in January, leaving this majority in good hands with what I believe is a very bright future," said Ryan. "It's almost hard to believe but I have been a member of Congress for almost two decades. This is my 20th year in congress. My kids weren't even born when I was first elected. Our oldest was 13-years-old when I became speaker."
Ryan and wife, Janna, are the parents of three children.
Ryan noted that perhaps the biggest achievements for him are the tax reform and the effort to rebuild the nation's military.
"These are lasting victories to make this country more prosperous and secure for decades to come," he said. "I am proud of what this congress has achieved and I believe its future is bright. The economy is strong. We've given Americans greater confidence in their lives and I have every confidence I'll be handing this gavel on to the next Republican speaker of the House next year."
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