Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., stands behind Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Shelby announced Monday that he will retire from Congress in January 2023. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 8 (UPI) -- After four decades on Capitol Hill, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama announced on Monday that he will leave Congress and won't run for re-election net year.
Shelby said in a statement that he won't run for a seventh Senate term in 2022.
"For everything, there is a season," he wrote.
"I have been fortunate to serve in the U.S. Senate longer than any other Alabamian. During my time in the Senate, I have been given great opportunity, having chaired four committees. ... In these positions of leadership, I have strived to influence legislation that will have a lasting impact -- creating the conditions for growth and opportunity.
"Although I plan to retire, I am not leaving today. I have two good years remaining to continue my work in Washington. I have the vision and the energy to give it my all."
Shelby, 86, did not cite a specific reason why he is leaving Congress.
Shelby is one of the longest-serving U.S. senators, having first taken office in 1987. Before that, he was a member of the House since 1979.
"I look forward to what is to come for our great state and our great nation," he said.
Shelby's retirement comes just weeks after Democrats regained control of the Senate by the slimmest of margins. The split is 50-50 in the chamber, with Vice President Kamala Harris representing the tiebreaker vote in her role as Senate president.
Shelby was a Democrat for the first seven years of his tenure in the Senate before he switched to the Republican Party in 1994.
"It has been frustrating because I thought there was room in the Democratic Party for a conservative southern Democrat such as myself," he said at the time. "But I can tell you there is not."