MIAMI Barely a week after announcing his retirement, Representative Bill Young of Florida, the longest-serving Republican member of Congress, is "gravely ill" according to a statement released on Thursday by his family.
Young, 82, who represents a Florida west coast district including the cities of Clearwater and part of St. Petersburg, announced on October 9 that he would not run for re-election in 2014 due to poor health and because he wanted to spend more time with his family.
Young also expressed disappointment over the current political deadlock in Congress in an interview last week with the Tampa Bay Times.
A former chairman of the powerful U.S. House Appropriations Committee who still chairs the Defense subcommittee, Young had been recuperating from a back injury at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
"U.S. Rep. C. W. Bill Young's condition turned for the worse overnight and he is gravely ill. His doctors say his prognosis is guarded," the Young family said in a statement released by the congressman's staff.
The announcement of his retirement prompted warm words from both parties in Congress, with Democrats hailing his bipartisan approach to political solutions.
Young opposed the Republican leadership over the government shutdown and said last week he was prepared to vote for a budget resolution that included funding for the Obama administration's controversial health-care reform law.
Due to his deteriorating health. Young's staff said he was unable to cast a vote to reopen the government Wednesday night.
His retirement opens up a Republican seat in Congress for what could be a tight race in 2014 in a district that is favorable to Democrats. The district was won by President Barack Obama in the presidential elections of 2008 and 2012.
(Reporting By David Adams; editing by Gunna Dickson)