Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers thanked political ally House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday for his service after the politician announced he wouldn’t seek re-election.
McMorris Rodger, R-Spokane, has not publicly ruled out a run for the speakership, but reports out of Washington, D.C., suggested Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy or Majority Whip Steve Scalise are the most likely successors to lead the House Republicans.
“America stands on the shoulders of the giants who have gone before us because they put country first,” McMorris Rodgers said in a statement. “That’s what Speaker Ryan has modeled for all of us.”
In a follow-up statement, a spokesman for McMorris Rodgers – who quickly rose through the ranks and became the chairwoman of the House’s GOP conference in 2013 – said the congresswoman wasn’t yet considering a run for Ryan’s position.
“There’s a time for that conversation, but it isn’t now,” said Jared Powell, a spokesman for the congresswoman, in an emailed response. “Which is why today you saw Cathy shepherding her legislation to protect the Snake River dams through committee and participating in a committee hearing on the steps Congress can take to end the opioid crisis – because she is focused on continuing to build on the five bills she’s had signed into law over the last six months.”
As the fourth-ranking Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, McMorris Rodgers has stood with Ryan and other House leadership on wide-ranging issues, including the massive tax reform plan that passed Congress late last year with exclusive GOP support. Also late last year, a Ryan-backed political action committee announced its intentions to set up an office in Eastern Washington to assist McMorris Rodgers in re-election efforts.
“Speaker Ryan didn’t seek this office, this office sought him. Nonetheless, his brilliance and understanding of policies that empower people to reach their full potential led us to advance solutions that improve the lives of all Americans and their families,” McMorris Rodgers continued in her statement.
Republican congressman Mike Simpson, who represents southern Idaho, also praised Ryan’s leadership.
“Paul has been an exceptional Speaker and has done a tremendous job leading our Republican Caucus,” he said in a statement. “We both came to Congress in 1999, and I have enjoyed a great working relationship with him since we first met. He will be truly missed and hard to replace.”
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., kept her comments on Ryan’s retirement personal, rather than political. Murray worked with Ryan on a budget deal that was signed in 2013 following a bitter government shutdown on spending.
“I got to know Speaker Ryan well when we worked together on a bipartisan budget deal in 2013, and while we frequently found areas of disagreement, I have tremendous respect for his commitment to public service and for his willingness to work with me to find common ground and move away from the constant crises,” Murray wrote in a statement.