Republican U.S. Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, a leader of fiscal conservatives in Congress who has clashed with his party’s leaders, said he will leave Congress to head the Heritage Foundation.

DeMint, whose Senate Conservatives Fund backed several Senate candidates in 2010 Republican primaries against hopefuls supported by the party’s establishment, said he’ll join the Republican-leaning policy group in January.

“I’m leaving the Senate now, but I’m not leaving the fight,” DeMint said in a statement. “I’ve decided to join the Heritage Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in the battle of ideas.”

DeMint has completed two years of his second six-year term. His announcement came two days after he criticized fellow Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s offer in budget talks to generate $800 billion in new tax revenue.

“Speaker Boehner’s $800 billion tax hike will destroy American jobs and allow politicians in Washington to spend even more, while not reducing our $16 trillion debt by a single penny,” DeMint, 61, said in a Dec. 4 statement.

‘Real’ Reductions

Republicans must oppose tax increases and insist on real spending reductions that shrink the size of government and allow Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money,” DeMint’s statement said.

First elected to the Senate in 2004, DeMint was re-elected two years ago. Earlier, DeMint served three terms in the House of Representatives.

DeMint will replace Edwin J. Feulner, who will step down as Heritage Foundation president in April, the organization said in a statement. Fuelner was a founding trustee when the group started in 1973. He earned more than $1 million in 2010, according to Heritage tax documents.

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“Jim DeMint has shown that principled conservatism remains a winning political philosophy,” the group’s board chairman, Thomas A. Saunders, said in the statement.