Powerful Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey of New York to retire

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., Chairwoman of the full committee, speaks before hearing from Attorney General William Barr, as he appears before a House Appropriations subcommittee to make his Justice Department budget request, Tuesday, April 9, 2019, in Wa

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Nita Lowey, who leads the powerful House Appropriations Committee and is a 31-year veteran of Congress, announced Thursday that she will retire at the end of next year.

The 82 year-old New York Democrat tweeted that it's been a "deep honor and privilege to serve my community and my country."

Lowey is a longtime ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and is one of Capitol Hill's old-school dealmakers. She combines a grandmotherly demeanor with decades of hands-on experience, especially in the annual foreign aid bill, where Lowey has fought for money to combat AIDS, deliver economic aid to developing nations and been a reliable ally of Israel.

She rose to the top of the committee earlier this year and was thrown into negotiations over ending the government shutdown and the battle with President Donald Trump over money for the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

In August, Lowey attracted a primary challenger from the left in Mondaire Jones, who worked at the Justice Department in the Obama administration. A mother of eight who didn't enter public life until her 50s, Lowey has not had a difficult election in years.

Lowey often stops in Capitol hallways to catch up on news about the families of Capitol Hill maintenance workers and others.

"Frankly to have a job that I love so very much made this a very difficult choice," Lowey said. "But I just felt it was time."

Lowey has slowed down physically but has remained very much in charge of the wide-ranging business of the committee.

She has used her perch to advocate for public works spending for new rail tunnels into Manhattan and recovery assistance from Superstorm Sandy. Almost 20 years ago she led a successful fight to deliver contraception coverage to federal workers via their federal health insurance plans.