Note From Congressman Frank Wolf

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This letter arrived today from esteemed Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA-10th District). We very much appreciate his continued advocacy for local safety issues, human rights around the globe, as well as his repeated efforts to inspire the current administration to remember its promise for transparent government, promised by the candidate, and often touted by the new president with little or no change from the business as usual model Americans have come to loathe from both parties.

The congressman's report:

Dear Friends,

Congress is deep into the appropriations season. The House has passed seven of the 12 FY 2010 spending bills, with five more on course for consideration before the annual August congressional recess. This week the House will vote on the Energy and Water, and Financial Services appropriations. The Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations subcommittee on which I serve approved the THUD bill Monday evening, and that bill should be on the House floor later this month.

Transportation Improvements

frank wolf

Frank Wolf (VA-R)

The transportation spending bill approved by the subcommittee includes another $85 million for the Dulles Corridor Metrorail extension project.  This latest installment would bring the total federal share for the project to date to over $440 million. I am hopeful that both the full House and Senate will include this funding in the final version of the spending bill to continue the federal share for this critical project.  A national report earlier this month ranked the Washington, D.C., metro area as having the second worst traffic congestion in the nation, a dubious distinction that the area has held for a number of years.  Mass transit in the Dulles corridor is critical to relieving congestion on busy roads and will connect the nation‚s capital to one of the world‚s leading international airports.

My recent efforts also have focused on two transportation safety issues.  In light of the tragic accident that occurred on June 22 on Metro's Red Line, the Washington region‚s congressional delegation has worked together to secure $150 million in the FY 2010 transportation spending bill for Metro safety and maintenance improvements.  This funding would be matched by Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.

The state's decision to close a number of rest areas on interstate highways in the Commonwealth is also of deep concern, and my letter to Governor Kaine urges the state to reconsider the decision. I fear that fatigued drivers, especially long-haul truckers, without convenient places to pull off the highway could increase the risks for accidents. This is a safety issue and the state has a responsibility to the hundreds of thousands of drivers on Virginia's highways to resolve this matter.

Attorney General Is Stonewalling

Earlier this year, President Obama stated that he ran "for president promising transparency, and I meant what I said. That is why, whenever possible, we will make information available to the American people so that they can make informed judgments and hold us accountable. My intention is to hold him and his appointees to his word.

As you will recall, I have been trying to get answers from Attorney General Eric Holder on the Justice Department's (DOJ) plans for the disposition of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay.  After waiting 118 days for a response to my letters of March 13, April 23, and May 13, my office received only a cursory acknowledgment from the department on July 7 that failed to answer a single question.  Similar questions from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have similarly been dismissed or gone unanswered.  The attorney general's blatant obstruction of this most basic responsibility leads me to question this administration's commitment to transparency and accountability.

Mr. Holder's failure to explain his decision to dismiss a recent voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party is also of great concern. Both the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and I have sent letters to the department seeking an explanation. My office has also called on the House Judiciary Committee and the DOJ inspector general to investigate this matter.

Disappointing Effort on Human Rights

My concerns are growing regarding the Obama administration's failure to date to champion human rights as a central part of American foreign policy.  My statement in the *Congressional Record* highlights those concerns, specifically with the administration's dealings with China, Cuba, Sudan, Egypt, North Korea, Vietnam, Iran and Russia. I was quick to criticize the Bush administration when its public rhetoric in the human rights arena failed to match its action. But in this new, young administration, it seems even the rhetoric is absent. 

I hope this information is helpful. For more on these and other issues, please visit my website. Please continue to share your views on matters of interest to you.

Best wishes,

Frank Wolf

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