Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Senate president pro tempore and the chamber's current longest-serving member, announced Monday that he plans to retire when his term ends in 2023.
"I have reached the conclusion that it is time to put down the gavel," Leahy said during a press conference Monday. "It is time to pass the torch to the next Vermonter, who will carry on this work for our great state. It's time to come home."
Leahy, a Democrat, was first elected to the Senate in 1974. He's currently in the midst of his seventh six-year term in the Senate.
According to Senate records, only four other people in U.S. history have served in the Senate longer than Leahy.
In addition to serving as the Senate's president pro tempore, Leahy has also served as the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
"So I will carry forever with me the enduring bond with my fellow Vermonters whose common sense and goodness are what I try to match as their representative," he said Monday.
At age 81, Leahy is the fifth-oldest Senator currently serving. Chuck Grassley, the 88-year-old senator from Iowa and the oldest Republican in the Senate, announced earlier this year that he would seek re-election in 2022.
At 88, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, is the oldest current senator.
According to The Washington Post, the current Senate class has the oldest average age in the chamber's history.