Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas announced Wednesday that she will not seek re-election and will leave Congress after finishing out her current term.
"I have learned in life that there is a time for endings and for new beginnings," the Lowell Democrat, who represents the state's 3rd district, said in a statement. "After much thought, I have decided that this is one of those times."
Tsongas, 71, was elected to the House of Representatives 10 years ago — when her present district was then the state's 5th district — in a 2007 special election prompted by the departure of then-Rep. Marty Meehan.
In her statement, Tsongas said becoming the first Massachusetts woman in about 25 years to be elected to Congress is a point of pride.
"I also felt, as I have often said, that women can’t win if women don’t run," she said. "I’m proud that my election marked the first time in a quarter century that Massachusetts sent a woman to Congress."
She serves on the House Armed Services Committee and previously served as the top Democrat on the subcommittee for Oversight and Investigations, where she focused on legislation aimed at improving the treatment of women in the military.
"I’m especially proud of the role I have been able to play in challenging the ways in which women are treated in the military, understanding that if you change the culture of one of our country’s rightly honored bedrock institutions, you can change a country," she wrote.
Tsongas also serves on the Natural Resources Committee.
In the statement, she called her late husband, Paul Tsongas — who held the same seat for two terms from 1975 until 1985 — an "extraordinary role model," and expressed gratitude toward "those who have been there since day one, and to the many great Americans" she met through her role in Congress.