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By Rebecca Shabad

WASHINGTON — Rep. Charlie Dent announced Tuesday that he plans to resign from Congress next month instead of retiring at the end of the current session as he had originally announced.

"After discussions with my family and careful reflection, I have decided to leave Congress in the coming weeks," Dent, a Pennsylvania Republican, said in a statement. His office said he will step down in May.

Dent had said in September that he would retire from Congress at the end of 2018.

Dent did not offer a specific reason for his early departure, though he has often been critical of his party's positions and tactics, especially those members of the conservative Freedom Caucus.

Asked last week if GOP incumbents were feeling the effects of a taxing midterms environment, said, "I think there's a lot of weariness and a lot of exhaustion, frankly. This is going to be a challenging year."

His announcement Tuesday comes nearly a week after Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., announced that he would not seek re-election in November, as a growing number of House Republicans opt out.

On Friday, Dent introduced a bill with Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., to protect special counsels amid the possibility that President Donald Trump could take steps to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the Russia investigation.

Dent has served in Congress since 2005 and chaired the House Ethics Committee from 2015 to 2017.

Kasie Hunt contributed.