US Congressman Barney Frank 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
WASHINGTON – US Congressman Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) announced Monday he
would not seek re-election in the coming congressional elections, putting an end
to the 30-year-long career in the House of Representatives that made Frank one
of Washington’s most prominent Jewish politicians.
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redistricting following the most recent census was behind his decision to leave
Congress a term earlier than he had previously intended.
represents the southern Boston suburbs and the industrial heartland of
southeastern Massachusetts, became America’s first openly gay member of Congress
when he came out of the closet in 1987. In recent years, he has been at the
forefront of congressional efforts to release Jonathan Pollard, including
spearheading a 2010 letter to President Barack Obama requesting clemency for
Frank has been a vocal supporter of Israel, but remained
characteristically outspoken on issues surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. He challenged – and refuted – newspaper accounts that he had condemned
Israel’s behavior during the 2010 Gaza Flotilla, but stood by a comment in which
he said the behavior of some settlers toward Palestinians “makes me ashamed that
there would be Jews that would engage in that kind of victimization of a
Repeatedly recognized in polls by Capitol Hill staffers as
among the wittiest and hardest-working members of Congress, Frank coauthored the
Dodd-Frank Act, the law imposing tougher regulations on America’s financial
sector following the financial crisis of 2008.
As the most sweeping
financial regulative effort passed under the Obama administration, Dodd- Frank –
which has been blasted by Republican presidential hopefuls – sought to “improve
accountability and transparency in the financial system, to end “too big to
fail,” to protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts and to protect
consumers from abusive financial services practices.
Obama said on Monday
“this country has never had a congressman like Barney Frank, and the House of
Representatives will not be the same without him,” adding that it is “only
thanks to his leadership that we were able to pass the most sweeping financial
reform in history designed to protect consumers and prevent the kind of
excessive risk-taking that led to the financial crisis from ever happening
Frank, who is currently the ranking minority member of the House
Financial Services Committee, is known for his sharp responses and liberal
voting record on issues ranging from abortion to military spending. In the past,
he also teamed up with Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul to advance
legislation, including supporting online gambling.
In response to Frank’s
retirement announcement, National Jewish Democratic Council President and CEO
David A. Harris said he was “truly saddened by the news that Representative
Barney Frank will be retiring at the end of his current term.”
last 30 years, Frank has been a leading voice for many Jewish communal concerns
and a stalwart advocate for America’s middle class on Capitol Hill. Through his
fierce advocacy for many Democratic and social-justice causes, Frank truly
represented the Jewish value of tikkun olam – repairing the
Harris said Frank “leaves behind a strong legacy as one of
America’s pioneering Jewish legislators in addition to the many pieces of
legislation that bear his name. Frank’s absence in the House will be felt by
all, and especially so for many in the American-Jewish community, who have
looked up to Frank as a role model.”