U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen will not seek re-election to Congress in 2018. The House Appropriations Committee chairman, facing a tough re-election contest, told House Republican leadership and party insiders that will retire at the end of the year.
Frelinghuysen, 71, has served in Congress for the last 23 years and comes from one of New Jersey’s oldest political families.
His announcement suddenly creates an open seat in a Republican-leaning district that has been viewed as wildly competitive in what might be a Democratic year.
The full text of Frelinghuysen’s announcement:
“Today as I announce my retirement at the end of this session of Congress, I want to use the opportunity to strongly encourage the many young people I meet to consider public service. Public service is an incredible way to turn your convictions into something that serves the greater good and to do it alongside people from every walk of life and background. That has certainly been my experience here in this House, and during my Army service in Vietnam. I thank my friends and colleagues with whom I have served. My years in public service have allowed me to represent my home county of Morris for over 40 years, and also Essex, Passaic, Sussex Counties, and earlier on, Somerset! That would not have been possible without the love and support of my wife, Virginia, our two girls and my late father and mentor, Peter. The unsung heroes of my time in Congress are my staff, both in Morristown and Washington, who tend every day to the needs of 730,000 constituents!
“During my time serving here there have been times of great tragedy including the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the ravages of Hurricane Sandy on my home state. In my role on the House Appropriations Committee, I made sure that New Jersey’s needs were met in both the immediate aftermath as well as over time in the wake of these events. I have proudly been able to secure key federal investments for New Jersey to strengthen our economy, our institutions of higher education, our hospitals and public transportation systems, to preserve open space and protect the environment and to better serve our veterans and our fellow citizens with mental illness and disabilities.
“As Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, this past year I have had a singular focus on “getting our work done”. We completed 12 appropriations bill left over from 2017, we passed all 2018 bills in record time through regular order, and three Disaster Supplementals Appropriations bills, historic in scope, and the expediency with which we acted to help our fellow citizens. In my remaining year as chairman, I am determined to finish the FY18 bills and pass our FY19 bills through regular order. Every member, Republican and Democrat, will continue to have ample opportunity to directly impact the Congressional power of the purse and decide the best and highest use of limited taxpayer money. This will require — and I will happily devote — all my energies to this task.
“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. To those of you I have met while you served us overseas and to those of you that I have sat by your bedside, I hope and trust I have served you well.
“I have worked in a bipartisan manner, not just in times of crisis but always, because I believe it best serves my constituents, my state and our country. My father reminded me often that we are temporary stewards of the public trust. I have sincerely endeavored to earn that trust every day and I thank my constituents and my home state of New Jersey for the honor to serve and I will continue to do so to the best of my abilities through the end of my term.