Former Minnesota U.S. Rep. Bill Frenzel dies

Former Congressman Bill Frenzel, who represented Minnesota from 1971 until 1991. He died on Nov. 17, 2014 at age 86. Photo courtesy of Brookings Institution

WASHINGTON – Long-serving Minnesota U.S. Rep. Bill Frenzel died Monday at age 86, said a spokeswoman for the Brookings Institution where Frenzel served as a visiting scholar.

Frenzel represented Minnesota’s 3rd District, covering the southern and western Twin Cities suburbs, from 1971 until he retired in 1991.

He rose through the congressional ranks to become the ranking member on the House Budget Committee and was also a member of the tax writing Ways and Means Committee.

By the time Frenzel retired, he had became one of the GOP’s principal economic policy spokesmen and remained deeply involved in U.S. trade policy until his death, having been re-appointed by President Obama to serve on a trade advisory panel in September.

He was a leader among moderate Republicans in Congress during a period when Democrats completely controlled the lower chamber and he was known for working closely across the aisle.

Following his retirement, Frenzel stayed active in public policy as a scholar at the Brookings Institution and worked with groups promoting a balanced federal budget.

Frenzel is survived by his wife, Ruth.

Third District Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen issued this statement:

“Minnesota and America lost a great statesman today – Bill Frenzel represented the absolute best in public service. In representing Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District for two decades with strong dedication, Bill was widely regarded as somebody with a willingness to bridge divides in Washington and work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle.  While many of his personal acquaintances will remember him for his famous ‘Frenzel doodles’, Bill will be especially remembered for his vision and leadership setting a trade agenda that to this day continues to open markets for American products and services that create jobs here at home. Bill was a good friend and mentor to me, and I will miss our conversations over coffee where he would share the years of wisdom and insight he gained during his tenure in public service. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Ruthie, his daughters, and family.”

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton also remembered Frenzel Monday.

“When I was growing up he was the congressman representing my family. Everyone always had the greatest respect for him and for his intelligence and his knowledge of tax issues, and just his friendliness and his humanity,” Dayton told reporters.

Others took to Twitter to recall Frenzel.