House Speaker Paul Ryan has announced he will not run for re-election this year, in a big blow to Republicans with mid-term elections looming.
Congress’ most powerful lawmaker said he would not stand for another term in his Wisconsin district this November.
The clean-cut conservative, who has served in the House since 1999, was the Republican vice-presidential running mate for Mitt Romney in 2012.
Meanwhile, Republicans already face a tough challenge from Democrats to keep control of the lower chamber.
Paul Ryan joins nearly 30 House Republicans who have announced this year they are retiring outright.
Democrats need 23 seats to take over the House.
In a news conference on April 11, Paul Ryan said the decision was family-related.
He said: “You all know that I did not seek this job.
“I took it reluctantly.
“But I have given this job everything. I have no regrets whatsoever for having accepted this responsibility.”
Paul Ryan continued: “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 he did not want to be known by his children as “only a weekend dad”.
The 48-year-old father-of-three said he would retire in January after finishing his congressional term.
According to Axios, which broke the story, Paul Ryan has found his job frustrating, partly because of President Donald Trump.
However, President Trump praised the speaker on Twitter as “a truly good man”.
The president tweeted: “Speaker Paul Ryan is a truly good man, and while he will not be seeking re-election, he will leave a legacy of achievement that nobody can question. We are with you Paul!”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said Paul Ryan’s departure was an ominous sign for Republicans, months away from nationwide elections.
“Stay tuned for more retirements as Republicans increasingly realize that their midterm prospects are doomed,” the fundraising committee added.
According to analysts, Paul Ryan’s seat in Wisconsin’s first district could now fall into Democratic hands.
All 435 House lawmakers and 34 senators will face the voters this November, in what will amount to a referendum on Republican control of Congress and the White House.
The resignation of Paul Ryan – whose role as House speaker places him second-in-line to the president after VP Mike Pence – will spark speculation about whether he could one day mount a White House campaign.
In December Paul Ryan achieved his cherished goal of overhauling the US tax code, and according to Axios, regarded it as the capstone of his legislative career.
Republican congressman Steve Scalise and former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus are among those being touted as possible successors.