Chair of key House health panel to retire

Chair of key House health panel to retire

Rep. Joe PittsJoseph (Joe) R. PittsProgress in the fight against human trafficking Pitts op-ed misses mark on Democrat 'betrayals' over ObamaCare Lawmakers considering ObamaCare replacement: learn from 10 anti abortion betrayals MORE (R-Pa.) announced Friday he will not seek re-election, marking an end to his nearly 20-year career in the House.

“With great appreciation for the support of all those who have contacted me to urge me to run for re-election, I have decided, after prayerful consideration, not to seek re-election to the U.S. Congress in 2016,” Pitts wrote in a statement Friday.

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Pitts, who will have spent five years as chairman of the key health panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was first elected in 1997.  

Deeply religious and strongly anti-abortion, Pitts was the founding leader of the Republican Study Committee’s Values Action Team. The group formed the first year he served in Congress and has been a key liaison to the Christian right.

Last month, Pitts was also appointed to the GOP-led House committee to investigate Planned Parenthood.

“As chairman of the Health Subcommittee, Joe Pitts has been a legislative workhorse,” Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said in a statement Friday.

Upton said appointing Pitts to lead the health panel was his first act as chairman, and he has watched the Pennsylvania lawmaker play key roles in dozens of public health laws, including the “doc fix” deal this year.   

“Through the years he has been an invaluable lieutenant, thoughtful legislator, and a bedrock champion for life," Upton said.