Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is retiring after 20 years in Congress — take a look back at his life, career, and how he got here

Paul Ryan is not running for re-election.

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Paul Ryan is not running for re-election.
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Yuri Gripas/Reuters

  • Paul Ryan announced on Wednesday that he would not be running for re-election in November, and would retire from Congress.
  • Paul Ryan has served as the Speaker of the House since since 2015, and first joined Congress in 1999 when he was 28 years old.
  • Ryan married Janna Little, who came from a wealthy family of Oklahoma Democrats, and the couple has three children.

House Speaker Paul Ryan will not run for reelection in November and will retire from Congress at the end of his term, the speaker announced Wednesday.

Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican, is in his 10th two-year term in the United States House of Representatives. The 48-year-old is retreating from Washington politics with a long résumé: Vice Presidential nominee, Speaker of the House, and chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and House Budget Committee.

As Business Insider’s Bob Bryan noted, Ryan long pushed for a major revision of the tax code, a goal the GOP accomplished in December. Following the enacting of the massive tax law, rumors began swirling that Ryan may not run again. Ryan will serve out his full term and informed fellow Republicans of his plans Wednesday during a meeting of the GOP conference.

The Ayn Rand-reading conservative will step down from his position in January. The Speaker of the House is second in the presidential line of succession, after the Vice President.

Below, learn more about Paul Ryan, from his Wisconsin upbringing, to his congressional career, to his personal hobbies.


Paul Davis Ryan grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin, the fifth generation of his family to do so. His initials earned him the nickname PD, which he disliked. Both his father and grandfather were prominent attorneys.

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Ryan introducing his mother, Betty Douglas, on stage.
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Scott Audette/Reuters

Source: US News, The Los Angeles Times


Ryan’s father, Paul Murray Ryan, died of a heart attack in 1986, when his son was 16.

Source: The Los Angeles Times


Ryan graduated from Miami University (Ohio) in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science. The future member of Congress was also a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity. His father’s Social Security survivor benefits helped pay for his education.

Sources: The Los Angeles Times, US News, Miami UDelts


He then went to Washington as an intern for Wisconsin Senator Bob Kasten. Ryan became a committee professional staffer, but when Kasten lost re-election in 1992, Ryan was without a job.

Source: The Los Angeles Times


He took a job as a waiter and dishwasher at a Tex-Mex restaurant in Washington. By 1993, he had joined Jack Kemp’s Empower America as a speechwriter.

Source: The Los Angeles Times


From 1995 to 1997, Ryan worked as legislative director for Senator Sam Brownback, who later served as governor of Kansas. When Ryan decided to run for Congress, he moved back to Wisconsin and worked at Ryan Incorporated Central, his family’s construction business.

Sources: CNN, The Los Angeles Times


Ryan won his first election to the House of Representatives in 1998. He has been serving Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district, in the southeast portion of the state, for the two decades since.

Source: Ballotpedia


In December 2000, Ryan married Janna Little, who came from a prominent Democratic family and formerly promoted liberal causes.

Source: The New York Times


Ryan comes from a wealthy family, and Janna’s inheritance is reported to have been as high as $5 million.

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Eric Thayer/Reuters

Source: The Los Angeles Times


Janna, who now goes by Janna Ryan, was a tax attorney and then lobbyist, before becoming a full-time parent for the couple’s three children: Liza, Charles, and Samuel.

Source: ABC News


In 2012, Mitt Romney pegged Ryan to be his running mate. Vice Presidential nominee Ryan spent months on the campaign trail.

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Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

On Election Day 2012, Romney and Ryan lost to the incumbents, Barack Obama and Joe Biden.


When John Boehner resigned as Speaker of the House in October 2015, Ryan won the election to replace him. At 45, Ryan became the youngest elected speaker since 1869.

Source: Washington Post


Ryan is a Roman Catholic and has said that religion and the Bible have informed his political views and philosophy. As a child, he served as an altar boy at St. John Vianney in Janesville, where he is still a member.

Source: The National Catholic Reporter, The Washington Post


Ryan and his wife are big on the great outdoors. He fly-fishes and hunts deer, so his Secret Service codename during the 2012 campaign was “Bowhunter.” Ryan is also a big fitness buff who uses the P90X and completed a marathon in just over four hours.

Sources: Time, Business Insider, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation


Ryan is also known for his music taste — and ignoring reporters by keeping his headphones in. The avowed rocker said his playlist starts with AC/DC and ends with (Led) Zeppelin. He has even shared his Spotify playlist with Twitter followers: he likes Rage Against the Machine, Hank Williams Jr., The Grateful Dead, and Beethoven.

Source: The Los Angeles Times, Twitter, CNN


After 20 years, Ryan announced that his Congressional career would end with his current term.

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Paul Ryan.
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Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


When announcing his retirement, Ryan said he wanted to spend more time with his kids, who are now teenagers. “If I am here for one more term, my kids will only have ever known me as a weekend dad,” he said. “I just can’t let that happen. So I will be setting new priorities in my life.”

Source: CNN