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RETIRING HOUSE MEMBERS BLAME STRAINS OF SERVICE

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As filing deadlines approach for the November elections, a wave of House retirements is swelling and many members are citing the strains of public service among their reasons for departing.

Of the 28 House members who have announced they will leave at the end of the 103rd Congress, 15 of them will not seek other offices. The 28, along with with six retirement announcements in the Senate, exceeds the total for the entire Congress at this time two years ago. Only nine House members and three senators had announced their retirement plans by the same time in 1992.Rep. Austin Murphy, D-Pa., is the latest casualty, becoming the fourth House member in 1994 to announce his retirement, just three weeks into the year. Murphy, in a letter to his constituents this week, said "the personal price for such a career is high," adding that he was no longer willing to pay the price.

Murphy, 66, who was "reprimanded" in 1987 for diverting government resources to his former law firm in Pennsylvania and for other ethics charges, said his decision was based on "personal" reasons.

Earlier this month, Reps. Tom Lewis, R-Fla., Douglas Applegate, D-Ohio, and Al McCandless, R-Calif., made their announcements.

While Lewis and McCandless said the demands of public service had been taxing on their family lives, Applegate, 65, said "it is time for younger people to take the reins of government" and urged other older congressmen to follow his lead.