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Bill Frenzel

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Bill Frenzel

Bill Frenzel
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 3rd district
In office
January 3, 1971 – January 3, 1991
Preceded by Clark MacGregor
Succeeded by Jim Ramstad
Personal details
Born William Eldridge Frenzel
(1928-07-31)July 31, 1928
St. Paul, Minnesota
Died November 17, 2014(2014-11-17) (aged 86)
McLean, Virginia
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Ruth Purdy (married June 9, 1951)
Children Deborah, Pamela, Melissa
2 grandchildren
Residence McLean, Virginia
Alma mater Dartmouth College (B.A. 1950, M.B.A. 1951)
Website Bill Frenzel – Brookings Institution
Military service
Service/branch United States Naval Reserve
Years of service 1951–54
Rank Lieutenant
Battles/wars Korean war

William Eldridge "Bill" Frenzel (July 31, 1928 – November 17, 2014) was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from Minnesota, representing Minnesota's Third District, which included the southern and western suburbs of Minneapolis.

Early life and career

Frenzel was educated at the Saint Paul Academy in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and earned both a B.A. (1950) and M.A. (1951) from Dartmouth College. He served as a lieutenant in the United States Naval Reserve during the Korean War from 1951 to 1954.

Frenzel served eight years in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1962 to 1970, prior to serving in the U.S. Congress.[3] He was president of the No. Waterway Terminals Corp. (1965–70) and of Minneapolis Terminal Warehouse Company (1966–1970). He was a member of the executive committee for Hennepin County, Minnesota (1966–1967).[1]

House of Representatives

Frenzel was elected as a Republican to the 92nd, 93rd, 94th, 95th, 96th, 97th, 98th, 99th, 100th, and 101st congresses, serving from January 3, 1971 to January 3, 1991, and was the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee and a member of the influential Ways and Means Committee. He was a Congressional Representative to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in Geneva for 15 years. Frenzel became known as an expert in budget and fiscal policy, election law, trade, taxes and congressional procedures, and was a negotiator in the 1990 budget summit. During the Iran–Iraq war of the 1980s, Frenzel was a proponent of economic ties to the regime of Saddam Hussein, and opposed congressional efforts to condemn Iraqi war crimes such as the infamous Halabja chemical attack, the deadliest chemical-weapons attack in history, on the grounds that they would disrupt future trade with Iraq.[4] He also served as vice chairman of the Committee on House Administration, and vice chairman of the Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards. He did not run for re-election to the House in 1990.

Post-Congressional career

Frenzel was chairman of the Ripon Society, a Republican think-tank, from the 1990s until March 2004.[5] He has been a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, since January 1991, and was named director of the Brookings Governmental Affairs Institute on July 18, 1997.

President Bill Clinton appointed Frenzel (1993) to help sell the North American Free Trade Agreement.[6][7]

In 2001, President Social Security system, and, in 2002, to the Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN), which he chairs. He was interviewed on NPR's All Things Considered, on December 20, 2004, as an advocate of President Bush's plan for Social Security privatization.

At the time of his death, he was chairman of the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care, the Vice Chairman of the Eurasia Foundation, Chairman of the Japan-America Society of Washington, Chairman of the U.S. Steering Committee of the Transatlantic Policy Network, Co-Chairman of the Center for Strategic Tax Reform, Co-Chairman of the Bretton Woods Committee, Co-Chairman of the Committee For A Responsible Federal Budget, a member of the Executive Committee of the Committee on U.S.-China Relations, and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the International Tax and Investment Center.

He was an alternate board member of the Office of Congressional Ethics (as of 2011.)

Policy opinions

On political gridlock

Frenzel wrote in 1995:

There are some of us who think gridlock is the best thing since indoor plumbing. Gridlock is the natural gift the Framers of the Constitution gave us so that the country would not be subjected to policy swings resulting from the whimsy of the public. And the competition – whether multi-branch, multi-level, or multi-house – is important to those checks and balances and to our ongoing kind of centrist government. Thank heaven we do not have a government that nationalizes one year and privatizes next year, and so on ad infinitum.
(Checks and Balances, 8)

The historian of the Republican party, Geoffrey Kabaservice has identified Frenzel as a key moderate Republican within the post-war GOP.[8]

On the Prevention of Genocide Act

Frenzel took a public stand against the Prevention of Genocide Act of 1988, written by Peter W. Galbraith to impose economic sanctions against Iraq for the gassing of the Kurdish city of Halabja in northern Iraq during the Anfal Campaign of the Iran–Iraq War, in 1988. Frenzel said:

It's very hard to be for genocide, or against people who are against genocide, but I couldn't see anything in that resolution that could prevent any single drop of blood being shed. All I could see was that it was doing harm to the U.S., rather than to the perpetrators of the alleged genocide.

The bill passed the U.S. Senate but in the face of President Reagan's threatened veto, the House adjourned without passing the bill.[9][10]


Frenzel and his wife Ruth have three daughters. In 2000, he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, by the Emperor of Japan. In 2002, he received an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Hamline University.

In 1984 the National Coalition for Science and Technology named him a "friend of science."[11]


Frenzel died of cancer on November 17, 2014 in McLean, Virginia.[12][13]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Clark MacGregor
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Jim Ramstad


  1. ^ a b Gale Biography In Context.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Minnesota Legislators Past and Present-William Eldridge "Bill" Frenzel
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  5. ^
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  7. ^
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Bob McKeown interviewed Peter Galbraith.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Former Minnesota U.S. Rep Bill Frenzel dies
  13. ^

External links

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