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Bill Frenzel

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 3rd district
In office
Preceded by Clark MacGregor
Succeeded by Jim Ramstad

Born July 31, 1928 (1928-07-31) (age 81)
St. Paul, Minnesota
Political party Republican

William Eldridge "Bill" Frenzel (born Saint Paul, July 31, 1928) is a former Republican Congressman 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, earned a B.A. from Dartmouth College in 1950 and an M.A. from Dartmouth the following year. 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. He was president of the Minneapolis Terminal Warehouse Company from 1966 to 1970, and has officiated other corporations. He was a member of the executive committee for Hennepin County, Minnesota from 1966 to 1967.

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. 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 president of the Ripon Society, a Republican think-tank, from the 1990s until March 2004.[1] 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.

In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed him to a commission to study the 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 to privatize Social Security.

He is currently 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.

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)

On the Prevention of Genocide Act

Frenzel was the only U.S. politician to take 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 Senate but was not approved by Congress before it adjourned in late 1988.[2]


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.

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. ^ John McCaslin, "Inside the Beltway", Washington Times, March 19, 2004
  2. ^ "The Forgotten People: One Man's Battle to Stop Iraq", Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, March 26, 2003

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

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