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Senior Democrat stepping away from Congress to become CEO of Jewish advocacy group

Ted Deutch, who came to Israel twice in past month, says he is ‘deeply honored’ to lead AJC, which has ‘strengthened Israel’s place in the community of nations’

Representative Ted Deutch speaks during a drive-in rally for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at Broward College, on Thursday, on October 29, 2020, in Coconut Creek, Florida. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Representative Ted Deutch speaks during a drive-in rally for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at Broward College, on Thursday, on October 29, 2020, in Coconut Creek, Florida. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

US Representative Ted Deutch of Florida said Monday that he will not seek reelection in the fall, and instead will become the CEO of the American Jewish Committee advocacy group.

Deutch, who has served in Congress for 12 years and chairs the House Ethics Committee, will replace David Harris who has led the AJC since 1990.

“I have worked closely with AJC throughout my tenure in Congress and I am deeply honored to have been chosen to serve as the organization’s next CEO. For 116 years, AJC has worked to protect global Jewry, strengthen Israel’s place in the community of nations, and advance democratic values around the world,” Deutch said in a statement.

The congressman, 55, said he will continue his work in Washington until Congress recesses for the next election.

AJC’s statement highlighted that Deutch was one of only 25 House Democrats who voted against the Iran nuclear deal.

He visited Israel last week with other lawmakers on a trip organized by the AIPAC-affiliated American Israel Education Foundation, and earlier this month he was in Israel on a separate trip, as part of a congressional delegation led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with a bipartisan US Congressional delegation led by US Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL). on July 1, 2019. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Deutch is the 31st House Democrat to announce plans to leave the chamber in a challenging midterm year for the party.

Republicans are making a strong push to retake control of the House in this year’s midterms. So far, just 13 Republicans have said they’re not seeking reelection to the House.

The 31 Democratic House retirees are the most since the 1992 elections, when 41 of them stepped away.

Florida’s House and Senate are redrawing the state’s congressional maps, a once-a-decade redistricting process following the federal census. While each proposal makes changes to Deutch’s district because of population changes, the new district should remain safely Democratic.

Deutch has strongly pushed for gun control legislation and taken a more active role since 17 students and staff members were killed in a 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, part of his district. He has led the gun violence prevention task force in Congress.

Earlier this month he urged US President Joe Biden to use his State of the Union address to talk about gun control measures, including universal background checks.

“Anything we can do to spare one more community — one more family — the pain that we have experienced in Parkland and Coral Springs and South Florida is what we must do,” Deutch said in a statement honoring the victims this month, on February 14, marking four years since the tragedy. “The President may want to do more than that. But I want to get something done. We need to start saving lives and preventing more broken hearts.”

Measures to close loopholes in background checks for gun purchases passed in the House last year, but have stalled in the Senate.

Deutch serves as chair on the House Ethics Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and Global Counterterrorism. He is also a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee.

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