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OPINION

Rep. Barney Frank to retire

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Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, the former chairman of the influential House Financial Services Committee, will not seek re-election next year.

Frank, one of the best known liberals in Congress, will hold a 1 p.m. news conference in Newton, Mass., to discuss his decision.

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The Democrat chaired the financial services committee from 2007 until his party lost its House majority in the 2010 election.

Frank, first elected to Congress in 1980, is known as a principal architect of the country's biggest overhaul of the banking and financial-industry regulations since the Depression. The 2010 law was aimed at preventing another meltdown of the financial services industry. It also created a new agency to protect consumers from unfair lending practices.

Frank, 71, is known for his sharp intellect and intense, rapid-fire delivery during congressional debates. He also has gained attention as an openly gay member of the House; a 2009 biography by Stuart Weisberg is subtitled: The Story of America's Only Left-Handed, Gay, Jewish Congressman

Frank faced stiff opposition in 2010 from Republican Sean Bialet. Frank went on to win re-election to a 16th term by 10 percentage points. His suburban Boston district has been reliably Democratic, but it was recently redrawn and includes more conservative communities.

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