“…I have come to the House floor to ask…Is anybody listening?”
The dirty little secret in Washington is that when most members of Congress leave office, very few people notice and even fewer people care.
That’s not the case with Frank Wolf, the Northern Virginia Congressman who is retiring at the end of this session after a 34 year career in Congress.[read_more]
When Wolf leaves Congress in January, there will be a wider chasm between the many and the few; the ordinary and the consequential.
Frank Wolf has stood tall in the saddle in Congress as one of only a handful of members who have consistently challenged and held the body to account on issues such as religious persecution and religious liberty, Chinese cyber warfare, sex trafficking, gangs, and the threat of radical Islam and terrorism, long before 9/11.
Importantly, for nearly two years – and virtually singlehandedly – Wolf has faced down his own Republican leadership on the Benghazi debacle and the ensuing cover up by the Obama team. Wolf introduced a House Resolution to establish a Select Committee to investigate the attack on the American Compound on September 11, 2012, which took the lives of four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. Finally in May, 2014, House Speaker John Boehner relented to the pressure generated by Wolf’s dogged campaign and created a Special Committee.
Frank Wolf is certainly no movement conservative however – and over the years he’s frustrated and angered many conservatives with mixed votes on spending, working for huge earmarks, TARP, supporting big government boondoggles like Metro, voting for expanded eminent domain, and his vote for the freedom of speech limiting McCain-Feingold legislation and expanded internet control, among others.
Nonetheless, Wolf has been a consistent vote for important tax cuts and in support of the military. In addition, he’s been a sold conservative vote on important social and family issues over his career. He has also been one of the few Republicans willing to publically take on the need for entitlement reform, and has been a harsh critic of the massive debt of the last decade. While Wolf has supported visa increases for foreign science oriented “STEM” graduates from U.S. universities, he has also been a consistent promoter for E-Verify employment implementation and border security. He opposed the Dreamer Act and actually voted against the original 1986 amnesty for illegal aliens signed by President Reagan.
During the rise of the Tea Party movement in 2009 and 2010, there was widespread rumbling that the time had come to challenge Wolf with a more conservative voice in Virginia’s 10th District. Instead of ignoring or demeaning the new movement as so many in the Republican Party establishment and leadership have done, Wolf began attending Tea Party meetings and vigorously defending his record, and more importantly, he listened to and engaged the new political force in the Republican Party.
Even his most nagging critics had to admire his decency and passion for his positions. Richard Falknor, one of Virginia’s conservative bloggers summed up the view of many Virginia Republican’s and conservatives: “…we have had different perspectives over the years on the size of our civil government – but on the great issues of strengthening the world’s Judeo-Christian heritage, and preserving and protecting our nation, Frank Wolf has been in the forefront in the US Congress.”
Falknor went on to explain: “[Wolf] has stood nearly alone [in the Virginia delegation] against the Islamist menace, he has insisted [that] the GOP leadership take on a proper and full-scale investigation of the Benghazi disaster. He is [trying] to awaken and energize his fellow House members to act to save Christians and other minorities from the savagery of the Islamic State in the Middle East.”
The gaping hole Wolf leaves on these issues in the Congress could have not been better illustrated than this past July when he took to the floor of the House – for seven consecutive legislative days – to passionately condemn the appalling lack of interest on the part of the Obama Administration and the Congress in the extermination of Iraqi and Syrian Christians, among the oldest Christian communities in the world. Wolf said in his floor statement:
“Less than two weeks ago, on July 19, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, more commonly referred to as ISIS, ordered Christians to convert to Islam, pay taxes levied upon non-Muslims, or be killed. In the region around Mosul – what we know as Nineveh in the Bible – there is not a single Christian left. Think about that. There is not one Christian left in the ancient heart of Iraqi Christianity: A 2,000-year presence wiped away before our eyes in just a matter of weeks.
Mr. Speaker…I have come to the House floor to ask…Is anybody listening.”
A nationally known conservative and longtime acquaintance of Wolf reflected; “It’s hard for me to stay mad at Frank, he’s a man of his times. He makes some dumb votes that gets me and other conservatives mad, then turns around and jabs Grover Norquist in the eye from the floor [of the House]. You have to love that. (Norquist is the president of Americans for Tax Reform and the creator of the anti-tax pledge.) He tied the Speaker’s [Boehner] hands on Benghazi and he didn’t care what anyone said. That’s Frank Wolf.”
Howie Lind, a longtime Virginia conservative and the former Chairman of Wolf’s 10th Congressional District, stated that Wolf’s broad appeal has a lot to do with the little things he does as well. “Write Frank a letter, and you’ll get a personal response – he’s got the best constituent services on the Hill. He went above and beyond the call of duty for me when I was trying to get an appointment at DOD during the Bush Administration, even responding personally to people asking him to help me.
Frank also moved heaven and earth for a mutual friend of ours, a retired General Officer in the Marine Corps, and Clerk of the US House of Representatives. The man was dying and asked Frank and me to request a plot for him in Arlington Cemetery so that his surviving wife would not have to go through the headache. This isn’t normal protocol, and the Director of Arlington Cemetery turned him down. Frank plowed ahead, and appealed directly to the Secretary of the Army, and the request was ultimately approved before the General passed away. Frank genuinely cares and he’s great like that.”
To many, he is a most unlikely warrior. In person, Wolf is quiet and unpretentious. But whether it’s the plight of Christians, the international sex trade, prison reform in the U.S., terrorism, the Chinese, or a host of other issues, one has to wonder who will take up the ignored issues that he has brought to the attention of the nation. Who will stand in the well of the House and poke a finger of conscience into the eye of an all-too-often dysfunctional Congress? Who will ask that body, “Is anybody listening?”