This week, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced that he will not seek reelection to the House of Representatives this fall. While the speaker will serve out the rest of his current term, he will retire from office at the end of the year and will not return to Congress when it reconvenes next January. Ryan assumed the office in October 2015, following the surprise resignation of former-Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). The position of speaker is the highest-ranking elected official in the House of Representatives, with a range of institutional and administrative roles, and serves as the leader of the majority party in the chamber. The House will vote to select a new speaker after the midterm election in November.
During his nineteen years in the House, Ryan has had little direct experience with education and workforce development policy. He most recently served as the chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee and was the Republican nominee for vice president in 2012. However, he led the House when Congress passed the landmark overhaul of federal K-12 education policy through the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015. He also oversaw the House passage of the Perkins reauthorization bill—the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act—in 2016 and 2017.
Speaker Ryan also had a major impact on federal funding for education and training programs. Last month, Congress passed a $1.3 trillion funding bill that included a $75 million increase for Perkins with Ryan’s support. Despite championing budget austerity during his time as House Budget Committee chairman, Ryan worked alongside Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) in 2013 to secure the passage of a budget agreement that raised discretionary funding caps and helped reverse the across-the-board cuts that occurred under sequestration. Tax legislation was another major priority for Speaker Ryan—that measure was signed into law last December.