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Paul Ryan. Photo: Andrew Harnik / AP

News outlets are starting to share rumors that Paul Ryan's seriously considering retirement from his House Speaker role after the 2018 midterms.

Mark Fuller of the Huffington Post reports that the buzz has reached members of the conservative Freedom Caucus, who believe Ryan'll be out after he gets tax reform done. And Politico's Tim Alberta and Rachael Bade say Ryan's talked with close aides about leaving after the 2018 midterms.

"[I]t’s not a job I ever wanted in the first place,' Ryan told Politico. “If I was dying to be speaker, I guess it probably would be a dagger over my head. But I don’t think like that.” But Ryan's press secretary, AshLee Strong, tells Axios, "This is pure speculation. As the speaker himself said today, he’s not going anywhere any time soon.”

Between the lines: Ryan's exit will likely remain speculation until he gets the tax bill [his "personal white whale," per Fuller] passed. If Ryan publicly lets on that he's a lame duck, "his fundraising capacity and dealmaking leverage would be vastly diminished, making the House all the more difficult to govern," Politco reports.

Trump called Paul Ryan after Politico story broke and asked him if he was leaving. Ryan told Trump he wasn't "going anywhere," per aide.— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) December 14, 2017

Go deeper

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress sprints to meet crush of deadlines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congressional leaders have been pushing off vital action for months — and a lot of it will catch up with them in December, which begins Wednesday.

Driving the news: Funding for the federal government is set to expire at midnight on Friday. There are also consequential deadlines related to the debt limit, President Biden's agenda and annual actions like voting on the National Defense Authorization Act.

3 hours ago - World

U.S. fears Iran won’t scale back to 2015 nuclear deal

Officials gather in Vienna on Sept. 29 for the first day of renewed nuclear talks with Iran. Photo: EU Vienna Delegation/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

U.S. officials have extremely low expectations as world powers resume negotiations with Iran to curb its nuclear program, believing the Iranians aren't yet ready to negotiate seriously, Axios is told.

Driving the news: Senior officials in the U.S. intelligence community have assessed the new Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, thinks of his predecessor, Hassan Rouhani, as a weak accommodationist who negotiated a bad deal with the U.S. and other world powers in 2015.