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Political Pulse: Paul Ryan to retire; Ohio House speaker steps down as FBI inquires; Zuckerberg under fire

Political Pulse is a weekly column with the goal of giving objective, to-the-point information to readers on current political events.

Paul Ryan to retire

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election this November.

Ryan, who had been considered one of the Republican party’s most promising leaders, announced he will finish out his term, which ends in January, marking 20 years in Congress.

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. speaks during a press conference announcing his retirement on Capitol Hill on Apr 11, 2018. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Ryan took the speaker’s gavel in 2015 following the resignation of John Boehner, and has had a rollercoaster ride. A representative of the Republican majority in Barack Obama’s closing months as president, Ryan now often balances the priorities of House Republicans against the wishes of Donald Trump’s White House.

The passage of a Republican-backed tax bill last year will most likely be seen as Ryan’s crowning achievement. The New York Times reports the bill is expected to weaken the Affordable Care Act and reduce top corporate tax rates.

Ryan’s retirement comes ahead of what could be a tumultuous midterm election for Republicans, sparking further fears of a “blue wave” and possibly more Republican retirements.

Perhaps confirming those fears, Rep. Dennis Ross, a Republican from Florida, announced his retirement shortly after Ryan. So far, 55 members of the House — 38 Republicans and 17 Democrats — are not expected to seek re-election, according to Pew Research Center.

Ryan said he will continue to lead the charge in Republican fundraising efforts for 2018.

Ohio House speaker steps down as FBI inquires

In a case of state politics mimicking national politics, the speaker of the House in Ohio, Republican Cliff Rosenberger, will resign, albeit under much different circumstances than his federal counterpart.

Rosenberger’s announcement comes amid an ongoing FBI investigation into his spending on travel and housing while in office.

According to a report by the Columbus Dispatch, the FBI is looking into foreign trips Rosenberger took that were funded by outside groups.

Rosenberger maintains his innocence.

The resignation worsens the fight to succeed Rosenberger as leader of the House. Kirk Schuring, a Republican representing Canton and the current No. 2 leader, will step into the role of speaker until the House can vote on a new speaker to serve out the remainder of the year.

Zuckerberg under fire

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was questioned by members of Congress on Capitol Hill this week regarding Facebook’s privacy measures in the fallout of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

Senators from both sides of the aisle have taken their chance to tee off on Zuckerberg, although some senators have shown an understanding of how Facebook operates while others have grasped at straws.

Under specific scrutiny about the extent to which Facebook monitors its users, especially after they log off, he was questioned on privacy users have off of the social network.

Zuckerberg’s response was, in essence, a dodge.

“I know that people use cookies on the internet, and that people can probably correlate activity between sessions,” Zuckerberg said while offering to get back with an answer after talking to his team.

Maybe Zuckerberg does not know, but it is a poorly kept secret that Facebook does indeed do this. Devin Coldewey at TechCrunch described it as a “crucial capability Facebook deploys.”

Another noteworthy topic was Facebook limiting the reach of pro-Trump YouTubers like Diamond and Silk.

Facebook has admitted this move was a mistake and Zuckerberg reiterated the regret of censoring some conservatives.

Zuckerberg’s appearance on Wednesday marked the end of his 10 hours before Congress that began on Tuesday.

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