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January 16, 2014 AT 8:28 AM
Joining an exodus from Congress by both Democrats and Republicans, veteran Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon tearfully announced Thursday that he's retiring after 21 years, and stepping down as House Armed Services Committee chairman. "I'm leaving this job in a year, but I will not leave the fight," McKeon told reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference, with his wife, Patricia, and current and former aides in attendance. McKeon pledged to continue working for men and women in the military. The California Republican, who has led the panel for three years, is term-limited as chairman and McKeon said that was a factor in his decision to step down. He endorsed Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas, the panel's vice chairman, to succeed him if the GOP maintains control of the House in November's elections.