A backbench Republican sparked the latest round of speculation Monday about Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s future by suggesting other GOP lawmakers were bracing for the Wisconsin Republican to resign from office this spring.
The suggestion, offered from the “rumor mill” by Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.), drew an immediate dismissal from Ryan’s office.
“The speaker is not resigning,” AshLee Strong, Ryan’s spokeswoman, said in a statement.
Amodei is not particularly close to the speaker, who has a small inner circle of advisers and who makes decisions about his political future with an even smaller round of confidants and family.
But Amodei publicly reopened the discussion that has been kept to private whispers within the House Republican Conference about whether Ryan will run to lead the House GOP next year. He went even further by stating, with nothing more than gossip from his colleagues, that Ryan would resign within 60 days and that his successor had already been chosen.
“The rumor mill is that Paul Ryan is getting ready to resign in the next 30 to 60 days and that Steve Scalise will be the new speaker,” Amodei said Monday on “Nevada Newsmakers,” a weekly news show.
Scalise, who was seriously injured when he was shot at a congressional baseball practice last June, currently serves as majority whip, the No. 3 post in leadership. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is Ryan’s top deputy.
After throwing open the idea that Ryan would resign, Amodei then acknowledged no one is openly campaigning to succeed him or pursuing other seats in leadership that could become vacant if McCarthy or Scalise moved up.
“Nobody has talked to members on how they are going to vote,” Amodei said.
Ryan, who was on a congressional delegation trip to the Czech Republic, has tried to bat down speculation about whether he wants another term as House speaker if Republicans hold the majority in the November midterms. Winning approval of the tax-cut bill in December marked a career highlight that led some to believe he might leave office in the winter, on a high note before what is likely to be a rough midterm.
Instead, he has made clear that he has a family tradition that dictates whether he runs for reelection to his Wisconsin seat. “That’s something that my wife and I always decide in late spring of the election year,” Ryan said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” in January.
Republicans would be stunned if there was an outright resignation in the middle of the term, without any political scandal, and many would suspect they had little chance to win the majority in November.
The traditional route for a House speaker looking toward the exits is to run for another term and announce immediately after the election that he or she is stepping down, particularly if the party loses the majority.