Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) surprised many Tuesday when the 17-term congressman announced that he would not run for reelection in 2014. Wolf gave few details on his decision to retire now other than he planned to work on human rights and other issues after leaving Congress at the end of next year. “I plan to focus my future work on human rights and religious freedom – both domestic and international – as well as matters of the culture and the American family,” he said in his statement.
Wolf has played a key role in space policy in recent years as the chairman of the Commerce, Justice, and Science subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, whose oversight includes NASA and NOAA. Besides his role in crafting spending bills, he has been a staunch opponent of NASA cooperation with China, in large part because of China’s human rights record. He has included provisions in recent appropriations bills forbidding NASA from bilateral cooperation with China, language that has caused no shortage of headaches at NASA Headquarters as Wolf kept watch to make sure NASA adhered to those restrictions.