Longest-Serving Republican in Congress Says He’ll Retire

Representative C.W. “Bill” Young of Florida, the longest-serving Republican in Congress, said he won’t be running for a 23rd term in the U.S. House.

Young, 82, will end his congressional career after his current two-year term ends in January 2015, said spokesman Harry Glenn.

The decision was first reported by the Tampa Bay Times.

“It’s my time” to leave Congress, Young said in an interview with the Times from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he’s recovering from a back injury.

“I don’t know that I would pick out one thing. It’s a lot of things. My family, my job, my rehabilitation from my back,” he said.

Partisan gridlock also was a factor, Young told the newspaper. “I’m a little disappointed,” he said. “It seems there’s too much politics. It’s a different Congress.”

First elected in 1970, he’s been an advocate for increased government spending on medical care, from boosting immunization rates to increasing research on Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. In 1986, he helped create a national registry for bone-marrow donors -- a program now named for him.

He was chairman of the Appropriations Committee from 1999-2005, and never hesitated to point out that was the last time the government ran a surplus.

“Bill Young is the dean of the Florida Congressional delegation, a tireless voice for our men and women in uniform and America’s national security, and a dear friend,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. “Since 1970, he has served with distinction in the People’s House - and both the House and the people are better for it.”

He represents a district that includes Clearwater and most of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Voters there re-elected Young while backing President Barack Obama in 2012 and 2008, and while choosing Democrat Bill Nelson for senator in 2012. That history of split loyalty makes it likely Democrats will target the district in 2014 as part of a push to wrest 17 more seats and gain a majority of the 435-member House.

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