Mr. Wolf 's Diligence

Saturday, October 14, 2006

OVER THE YEARS we have had our disagreements with Rep. Frank R. Wolf , the Republican who has represented Northern Virginia's 10th District since 1981. But those have been outweighed by our respect for his undisputed diligence, candor, active legislative approach and passionate commitment to human rights in some of the world's darkest corners. Those qualities continue to make Mr. Wolf part of a diminishing breed in the House -- of legislators whose independent-mindedness and pragmatic problem-solving outweigh their partisanship. He deserves reelection this year against health-care expert Judy Feder, dean of Georgetown's Public Policy Institute.

In addition to his habitual attentiveness to an array of local issues in Northern Virginia -- congested roads, stressed transit systems and the rising threat of Latino gangs -- Mr. Wolf has made a particular mark in this latest congressional term by his constructive national role. It was chiefly at his prodding that Congress established a bipartisan commission on Iraq, led by former secretary of state James A. Baker III and former representative Lee H. Hamilton, that represents the best hope at this point of forging a national consensus on how to proceed in the war. In addition, Mr. Wolf proposed a big-picture commission to tackle the fiscal and budgetary issues that Congress has so conspicuously failed to address, including entitlement spending on Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare as well as the tax code. The object would be to devise a fiscally sustainable course for the nation and present it to Congress for an up-or-down vote.

Ms. Feder is a smart, credible candidate whose broad experience and deep knowledge of health-care policy have given her a prominent role in that national debate for years; she was a senior official in the Department of Health and Human Services during the Clinton administration. She makes a reasonable case that Mr. Wolf, by some of the party-line votes he has cast, is complicit in assorted policy failures of the Bush administration, particularly its reckless tax cuts.

But if Mr. Wolf has proved anything in 26 years in Congress, it is that he is more than a party-line Republican. His repeated visits to Iraq, Darfur, Afghanistan, Chechnya and other unlovely hot spots reflect his zeal for human rights. For that he has earned respect on both sides of Capitol Hill's partisan divide and a 14th term in Congress.

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