In a session of Congress marked by bitter partisanship and high-stakes battles at seemingly every turn, the House Appropriations Committee stepped out of the maelstrom Wednesday to pay tribute to its erstwhile chairman, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, the retiring New Jersey Republican presiding over his last markup of the panel.
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., joked that Frelinghuysen was getting an “advanced look” at how he would be remembered after he dies.
“Not many of us get an advanced look at the eulogies we’ll have at our funerals,” Cole said in jest. “But in all seriousness, I want to thank you for the modest and civil manner in which you’ve wielded one of the most powerful gavels anyone has in Congress.”
Such modesty might even extend to forgoing normal post-career rituals, such as sitting for a portrait to eventually hang in the committee room, according to Rep. Mike Simpson.
Simpson, who chairs the Energy-Water Appropriations subcommittee, said that during a previous conversation on the House floor between himself and Frelinghuysen, the retiring chairman said he may not have his portrait painted.
“I would just tell you, Mr. Chairman, history and tradition says you need to get a portrait done to hang in the committee room,” Simpson said, while several other members of the committee nodded their heads in agreement on Wednesday.
“Members like you make this committee the best committee in all of Congress. You have earned your retirement, but I want to express from the bottom of my heart how much we will miss you,” New York’s Nita M. Lowey, the top Democrat on the Committee, said, adding that members of the panel “admire” Frelinghuysen and his work.