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Senior Ways and Means Democrat To Retire

March 4, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Rep. Sam Gibbons of Florida, the senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, is retiring from Congress after this year, a spokeswoman said today.

Gibbons, 76, will announce his decision not to run for reelection to an 18th two-year term, spokeswoman Ellen Dadisman said. He plans to teach, serve on boards and work for President Clinton’s re-election unencumbered by his own re-election effort.

In another congressional retirement, Rep. Toby Roth, R-Wis., announced that he would not seek reelection. Roth, who has served 18 years, did not disclose his plans.

Gibbons, who as a young man parachuted into Normandy on D-Day, has represented his district, including Tampa, since 1963.

Republicans won control of Congress for the first time in 40 years in 1994 and since then far more Democrats have announced their retirement than Republicans. Gibbons is the 26th Democrat to formally decide not to run, compared with 13 Republicans.

As the senior Democrat, the colorful and outspoken Gibbons has led the opposition to the GOP’s ``Contract With America″ tax cuts _ arguing that the budget should be balanced first. And he has fought GOP efforts to wring savings from Medicare, the health-care program for the elderly.

Usually good-humored and jovial, Gibbons, a lawyer, sometimes erupted into fiery anger during the Republicans’ first year of control.

During debate on welfare in March on the House floor, Gibbons tried to shout down boisterous Republicans, bellowing, ``Will you get these highly paid members to sit down and shut up? You all sit down and shut up.″

In September, a scheduling dispute within the Ways and Means Committee spilled over into an angry shouting match in a Capitol hallway. Gibbons squared off with Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif., who warned Gibbons, ``Don’t pull my tie,″ when the Democrat got too close for comfort.

Gibbons succeeded Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill., as head of Ways and Means after Rostenkowski was indicted on charges he misused his office and was forced to step down.

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