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Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, a staunch pro-abortion Democrat, plans to retire in 2022 after nearly 50 years in the U.S. Senate.

USA Today reports the 81-year-old politician announced his retirement plans Monday with his wife, Marcelle.

“I’m proud to be the longest serving senator because I know my time in the Senate has made a difference for Vermonters and I hope often well beyond,” Leahy said. “It is time to pass the torch to the next Vermonter who will carry on this work for a great state.”

Leahy was elected for the first time in 1974. According to the National Right to Life Committee, he has a consistent pro-abortion voting record. His recent actions include voting for bills to expand abortions and force taxpayers to fund them and against legislation to protect late-term unborn babies from abortions and newborns who survive abortions from infanticide.

In 2020, he criticized Amy Coney Barrett during her U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings, claiming she would be bad for women because she potentially would rule against Roe v. Wade and abortion on demand.

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Most recently, Leahy introduced nine spending bills that removed limits on taxpayer funding for elective abortions in the U.S. and overseas.

The Vermont senator is one of the most powerful lawmakers in the U.S. Senate, serving as the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the president pro tempore, as well as senior lawmaker on the Judiciary and Agricultural committees, according to the report.

Many believe Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a pro-abortion Republican who endorsed Leahy, will run for his seat, according to USA Today.

CBS News reports Leahy joins five other Republican senators who also are retiring, raising questions about the future control of the U.S. Senate. The body currently is divided 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, and Vice President Kamala Harris has the power to cast any tie-breaking votes.

The U.S. Senate not only votes on legislation, but it also confirms judges, including U.S. Supreme Court justices, and other presidential nominees. With polls showing very low support for both Harris and President Joe Biden and the recent Democrat losses in Virginia and New Jersey, many believe Republicans could gain seats in the 2022 midterms.

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