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One of US Congress' Top Leaders to Retire in 2003 - 2001-12-13

The second highest-ranking Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, Majority Leader Dick Armey, has announced he will retire from Congress when his current term expires in January 2003. Mr. Armey played a key role in the Republican takeover of the House in 1994.

The 61-year-old Mr. Armey, a Texas Congressman for 17 years, was elected majority leader after the 1994 midterm elections.

He played an instrumental role in drafting the Republican policy document known as 'Contract with America,' and pushed its provisions to a vote in the first 100 days of the 1995 session.

This year, Congressman Armey, a former economics professor in Texas, played a leading role in the enactment of President Bush's $1.3 trillion tax cut and is now working on shaping an economic stimulus package.

In announcing his retirement on the House floor Wednesday, Mr. Armey emphasized Republican legislative victories. He said Republicans had lowered taxes, reformed the welfare system, and restrained government spending. "We have been the instruments of the American people during a special period when America led the world in a freedom revolution," he said. "As a lesson on how freedom works, we whipped stagflation and set a course of economic prosperity and growth unparalleled in the history of the world."

Majority Whip Tom DeLay, a fellow Texan and the third ranking Republican in the House, has emerged as the leading candidate to replace Mr. Armey as majority leader.