US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan 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.
Republicans already face a tough challenge from Democrats to keep control of the lower chamber.
Mr 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 Wednesday morning news conference, Mr Ryan said the decision was family-related.
“You all know that I did not seek this job,” he said. “I took it reluctantly.
“But I have given this job everything. I have no regrets whatsoever for having accepted this responsibility.”
He 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.”
The 48-year-old father-of-three said he did not want to be known by his children as “only a weekend dad”.
Paul Ryan had to be coaxed into taking the speaker’s gavel in 2015 and never seemed to relish the job. Rumours had been swirling in conservative circles for months that he was eyeing the exits.
The speaker will frame his decision as one of putting family first – and, with young children, the fundraising and legislative duties of the office are burdensome – but it’s impossible not to view the move in a larger political context. He’s had frequent clashes with Donald Trump, and their differences – in temperament and policy – continue to be stark.
A mid-term election looms, and there are at least even odds that a Democrat could be speaker next year. Even if Republicans prevail, their majority will certainly be diminished, making the job of passing legislation through a party already torn between moderates and ideological hardliners all the more difficult.
Rather than go down with the ship – or perhaps suffer the same fate as Tom Foley in 1994, the last sitting speaker to lose a re-election race – Mr Ryan is reserving his seat on a lifeboat. He’s not the first congressional Republican to do so, and with the top man leading the way, more are sure to follow.