WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., the longest-serving Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, said farewell to his colleagues on Capitol Hill Thursday.
"Goodbye, friends," Hastert said to a round of applause in the chamber where he represented his constituents for 21 years.
Hastert told the House GOP leadership he intended to resign this year, relinquishing the rest of his term. CNN reported that Hastert's resignation probably would effective by the first of the year.
"The time has come for me to make my last speech from this podium," Hastert said.
Referring to an Olympic wrestlers' tradition of leaving shoes by the mat, he said, "I do hope that I have left a few footprints behind."
Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., honored Hastert for his service to the people of Illinois.
"While we may have had our differences over the years, when it came to serving Illinois we always wore the same colors," Emanuel said.
Hastert succeeded Newt Gingrich as House speaker in 1999. He lost the post to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., when the Democrats took control of the House. He is one of 12 Republican lawmakers to announce their retirements this year.