House Appropriations chairman Frelinghuysen says he will retire after this term

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., before a hearing in 2016.


By HERB JACKSON | The Record (Hackensack, N.J.) | Published: January 29, 2018

WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen announced Monday he will retire rather than seek another term in November, when he was expected to face the toughest campaign of his career in New Jersey’s 11th District.

Frelinghuysen, 71, became chairman of the House Appropriations Committee last year, a post that made him more beholden to the House Republican leadership at a time his suburban district was the site of regular protests urging him to resist the policies of President Donald Trump.

Frelinghuysen initially opposed the Republican-crafted American Health Care Act, but then supported a revised version even as he said he hoped the Senate would make it better. In December, he opposed the sweeping tax overhaul that was one of the major legislative accomplishments of the GOP Congress and the Trump administration.

Frelinghuysen’s 11th District, which covers parts of Essex, Morris, Passaic and Sussex counties, will be one of the hardest hit in the country by the new tax law’s $10,000 cap on the federal deduction for local property and state income taxes.

“I think he was torn,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell, a New Jersey Democrat who served 21 years with Frelinghuysen in Congress and for years before that in the state Legislature.

“Rodney’s a loyal person. He was loyal to the Republican Party, he was loyal to the president, but I think the most important thing in the final analysis is you’re loyal to the people that you serve,” Pascrell said.

Frelinghuysen’s departure continues a trend of retirements by veteran House Republicans, including prominent committee chairmen, which has raised Democrats’ hopes of retaking the House in November.

A 12-term incumbent from Harding Township, Frelinghuysen is part of a family that can trace its roots in Congress back to the founding of the United States.

His father, Peter Frelinghuysen, served 11 terms in Congress from 1953 to 1974, and his great-great-great-great-grandfather, Frederick Frelinghuysen, was a Federalist who served in the Continental Congress and was a member of the New Jersey convention that ratified the U.S. Constitution in 1787. His great-great-great-uncle, three-term senator Theodore Frelinghuysen, ran as Henry Clay’s vice presidential nominee on the Whig ticket in 1844.

In a statement announcing his decision to retire, Frelinghuysen mentioned his service in the Army in Vietnam and his work on the appropriator to keep the military strong.

“Throughout my service in this House, my deepest devotion has been to supporting our Armed Forces, all volunteers, and their families, here and abroad, and those warfighters who have returned home with injuries and who depend on a functioning veterans’ health care system,” he said.

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Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., talks with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford before a hearing in 2016.

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