The Corner

Belated Good Wishes for Retiring Rep. Frank Wolf

I was laid low with the flu when U.S. congressman Frank Wolf, (R., Va.), announced that he will retire at the end of this term, so I am late in paying homage to one of the finest congressmen of the past several decades. While it was obvious he would retire at some point in the next few terms, and while we are fortunate to still have him serving for the next year, it is still disappointing to know that his tenure will be coming to an end.

At the Daily Caller, Cliff Smith did a nice job of explaining some of the reasons why Wolf is a particularly honorable and effective congressman. A taste:

Like one of his heroes, the late Senator Scoop Jackson, Wolf has no blinders on when it comes to human rights and understands the ideology behind oppressive regimes is important to their behavior. He was and is an unrelenting critic of communism and the false promises of socialism to lift people out of poverty. He also has not ignored what makes freedom possible. Wolf has championed religious freedom, at home and abroad, and stressed the importance of the role of religion in society at large. He is unapologetically pro-life, both at home and abroad, receiving a 100 percent rating from National Right to Life as well as being one of the fiercest critics of China’s one-child policy which leads to forced abortion.

Let me add a few thoughts. When I first arrived at Georgetown University in the fall of 1982, the great Morton Blackwell recruited me and several other students one weekend to walk neighborhoods on behalf of Wolf and U.S. Senate candidate Paul Trible. Naturally, that led me to follow Wolf’s career more closely than most. I was almost never disappointed.

When my then-boss Bob Livingston became House Appropriations Committee chairman in 1995, Wolf became chairman of the subcommittee on Transportation. The committee’s charge was to cut actual dollars from the budget. Now anybody who knows Capitol Hill knows that Transportation is one of the all-time favorite areas for Members to pork up, and thus one of the hardest in which to keep spending in check. But Wolf was an absolute champ as subcommittee chairman, meeting his savings targets while making sure the important transportation projects were prioritized and supported. The numbers tell the tale: In Fiscal Year 1994, Transportation Approps amounted to $15.7 billion. After a tough-minded rescissions exercise in early 1995, the FY 95 total was cut to $12.5 billion. Every year from then through FY 2000, Transportation spending still remained below that 1994 mark — standing at $15.2 billion in that final year. I watched up close as Wolf worked himself and his staff very hard, but with decency and fairness. Wolf later served ably as chairman (at different times) of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee and the subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies.

In recent years, Wolf has been the single most insistent member of Congress when it came to bringing attention to Attorney General Eric Holder’s corruption of, and race-based perversion of, the Justice Department, and also when it came to trying to get to the bottom of the embarrassing and tragic terrorist attack in Benghazi.

A good, well-motivated, public-spirited man, Frank Wolf is an excellent model of what Congress was designed, by the likes of James Madison, to be. He says he will continue to work on human-rights issues after he leaves Congress; here’s wishing him many successful years in that pursuit.