Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., announced Wednesday he will retire from Congress in 2015 after 24 years of service.
"It's time to close this chapter of my life and move on to the next challenge," Moran said in a released statement.
Moran is the sixth Democratic lawmaker to announce his retirement from Congress and the third to do so this week. So far, nine Republicans have announced they will step aside after the 2014 midterm elections.
Moran represents Virginia's 8th District, a safe Democratic stronghold that is not expected to fall to Republicans. The district may, however, be the scene of a bitter Democratic primary.
Since he was elected to Congress in 1990, Moran has maneuvered his way into a leadership role on the House Appropriations Committee – a key post for the congressman, who hails from a district filled with defense contractors and one that's home to thousands of federal workers.
Moran, a hard-nosed and often tough-talking lawmaker, has made his mark on Capitol Hill as a moderate Democrat but a strong advocate for federal workers. He has remained a stringent defender of earmarks. In 2013, The Washington Post noted contractors in Moran's district received more than $43 billion in business thanks to the congressman.
"My chosen role in the U.S. Congress has been as an appropriator," Moran said. "I've seen the appropriations process at its height, and more recently its nadir. When the appropriations process is working, the government functions on behalf of the people, the economy is stronger, and the country overall becomes more inclusive, egalitarian and productive."
Moran has landed in hot water for a series of controversies in Washington over the years, drawing scrutiny for accepting personal loans from lobbyists in the pharmaceutical industry and for pushing Rep. Duke Cunningham, R-Calif., on the House floor during a heated debate over U.S. military intervention in Iraq.
Moran was the co-founder of the New Democrat Coalition, a place for Blue Dog lawmakers to develop center-left economic policies and respond to the rise of liberal politicians in Washington.
He also leads the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, in which he has advocated to end horse slaughter and make animal fighting illegal.