The Washington Times - January 15, 2014, 08:28AM

Congressman James P. Moran said Wednesday he plans to retire at the end of the year after representing northern Virginia on Capitol Hill for more than 20 years.

“After 35 years as a public servant, as Mayor of Alexandria, and for the past 23 as a member of the House of Representatives, it’s time to close this chapter of my life and move on to the next challenge,” Mr. Moran, a Democrat, said.

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His decision is a noteworthy one for the Old Dominion, coming on the heels of Rep. Frank Wolf’s announcement in December that he, too, would not seek reelection in 2014 after serving 17 terms on behalf of voters in the northern Virginia suburbs.

Mr. Wolf, a Republican who represents much of the region’s outer suburbs, said in a statement Wednesday that Mr. Moran “has been a true partner in working for Northern Virginia and will be missed.”

“Jim is more than a colleague in the House. He is a friend,” Mr. Wolf said. “He and I have worked side by side on a variety of projects and issues over the years, from getting funding for the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge to improvements on the George Washington Parkway to fighting for federal employees.”

The news means that Rep. Rob Wittman, a Republican first elected to Congress in a special election in 2007, will be the most senior Virginia member of the U.S. House representing a part of Northern Virginia come next year. And only a small sliver of his meandering 1st Congressional district — which stretches past Williamsburg — reaches into the exurb of Prince William County.

In a statement, Mr. Wittman said he’s enjoyed working with Mr. Moran on items like transportation and issues facing the federal workforce.

“I appreciate his commitment to his constituents and his friendship during our service together in the House of Representatives,” Mr. Wittman said.

Another ally for Mr. Moran has been Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Democrat first elected to represent the state’s 11th Congressional district in 2008. Mr. Connolly said the move is a loss for Congress and for the region, calling Mr. Moran “a dear friend” and “a passionate advocate for our region and for the progressive agenda, and someone who has delivered for us time and time again.”

“With our Republican colleague Frank Wolf, we’ve beat back efforts to slash Metro funding, secured federal support for Rail to Dulles, and defended federal employees from withering attacks,” Mr. Connolly said.

Mr. Moran, who served as an appropriator for most of his tenure on the Hill, made his announcement shortly before members of Congress vote on a sweeping omnibus budget bill.

“My chosen role in the U.S. Congress has been as an appropriator … I’ve seen the appropriations process at its height, and more recently its nadir,” he said. “When the appropriations process is working, the government functions on behalf of the people, the economy is stronger, and the country overall becomes more inclusive, egalitarian and productive.”

Mr. Moran served as mayor of Alexandria, Va., from 1984 to 1990, when he successfully ran for Congress.

Wednesday’s announcement touted his ability to bring billions of economic investment dollars to the communities that surround the nation’s capital, spurring on projects like the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and a Metro rail route to Dulles International Airport.

He also was an outspoken critic of the Iraq War.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Mr. Moran’s presence in Congress and as a leader in Virginia will be “sorely missed,” but “the enormous impact he has had on our Commonwealth and country will endure for years to come.”

“For the past 35 years, Jim Moran has been a fierce advocate for the people of Northern Virginia, a responsible steward of the federal appropriations process and a voice for so many who are often left on the margins of our society,” Mr. McAuliffe said in a statement.