WASHINGTON (AP) -- Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Joe Pitts announced Friday he will not seek re-election and will retire at the end of his 10th term.
Pitts, 76, is one of the House's most ardent conservatives on social issues such as abortion.
As chairman of a key health panel on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, Pitts helped pass legislation earlier this year to fix a broken Medicare reimbursement system for physicians and is a co-author of bipartisan legislation boosting medical research.
"I plan to focus my future work on human rights and religious freedom, both domestic and international, as well as on matters of culture and the American family," Pitts said in a statement announcing his retirement.
The grandfatherly Pitts represents a solidly Republican district that includes Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Before being elected to Congress in 1996, he flew B-52 missions during the Vietnam War, owned a nursery business and served in the Pennsylvania state house.
"Joe Pitts has done it all - a veteran Air Force pilot in Vietnam, accomplished artist, taught high school math, even built his home in Kennett Square with his bare hands - and in between he's found time for four decades of distinguished public service in the marble hallways of Harrisburg and Washington," said Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich.