Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings Resigns From House Intelligence Panel

Florida Democratic Rep. Alcee L. Hastings resigned from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Tuesday.

Hastings submitted his resignation to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after seven years on the panel.

"The work that we do on this Committee is often difficult and usually thankless. But it is absolutely critical to the safety and protection of the American people," Hastings said in a statement. "Today, more than ever in the history of this nation, congressional oversight of America’s intelligence community is needed. We can not continue to allow this president, or any president, to operate unchecked and with open-ended authority to disregard the protections afforded to all of us in the Constitution."

Hasting aides told FOX News that Hastings was not stepping down as a protest vote over the recently revised National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear weapons, but possibly to preserve his ability to be reappointed to the committee, whose members are term-limited.

Hastings, who is head of the Helsinki Commission, leads the Florida delegation and plays a major role on the Rules Committee, was first appointed to the intelligence panel in February 1999 as the ranking Democrat of the Subcommittee on Human Intelligence, Analysis and Counterintelligence.

When Democrats took the majority in Congress last year, Pelosi overlooked Rep. Jane Harman, who was in line to become chairwoman. After her was Hastings, but he too was bypassed as Democrats tried to distance themselves from charges of corruption that they were piling on Republicans. Hastings was removed from a federal judgeship in 1989 after bribery charges surfaced. He was later acquitted in the criminal case.

FOX News' Molly Hooper contributed to this report.