Bill Frist/Commentary

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Senate Majority Leader William H. "Bill" Frist, the junior Republican senator from Tennessee, is facing an "official probe into his personal financial dealings by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission." [1]

See Bill Frist: Inside Trader for details.

Biographical Profiles

Senate Biography

According to his Senate web site, William H. "Bill" Frist, MD was first elected to the U.S. Senate on November 8, 1994. Frist "was the only challenger to defeat a full-term incumbent in 1994 and the first practicing physician elected to the Senate since 1928. A fourth generation Tennessean whose great, great grandfather was one of Chattanooga's 53 original settlers, Frist is the 54th U.S. Senator from Tennessee. On November 7, 2000, Bill Frist was elected to a second term in the United States Senate by the largest margin ever received by a candidate for statewide election in the history of Tennessee."

In 1974, Frist graduated from "Princeton University where he specialized in Health Care policy at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. In 1978 he graduated with honors from Harvard Medical School and spent the next seven years in surgical training at Massachusetts General Hospital; Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, England; and Stanford University Medical Center. He is board certified in both general surgery and heart surgery.

"In 1985 Frist joined the faculty at Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he founded and subsequently directed the multi-disciplinary Vanderbilt Transplant Center, which under his leadership became a nationally renowned center of multi-organ transplantation. A heart and lung surgeon, he performed over 150 heart and lung transplant procedures, including the first successful combined heart-lung transplant in the Southeast. Frist has written more than 100 articles, chapters, and abstracts on medical research and five books: Transplant, which examines the social and ethical issues of transplantation and organ donation; Grand Rounds in Transplantation; Tennessee Senators, 1911-2001: Portraits of Leadership in a Century of Change; When Every Moment Counts, a family guide on bioterrorism; and Good People Beget Good People.

"Frist rose rapidly through Senate leadership. In 2000, he was unanimously elected chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) for the 107th Congress and in December 2002 was unanimously elected Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate (108th Congress). Under his leadership as Chairman of the NRSC, for the first time in history, the party of the President won back majority control of the U.S. Senate in a midterm election. He assumed the position of Majority Leader having served fewer total years in the U.S. Congress than any previous leader."

Frist currently serves on the following committees:

  • Finance
  • Rules
  • Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP)

"In 2001, he was named one of two Congressional representatives to the United Nations General Assembly."


Nationmaster Encyclopedia

"William H. Frist (born February 22, 1952) is the junior Republican Senator from Tennessee and a cardiac surgeon. He enjoys a much closer relationship with the George W. Bush administration than most other senators. On December 23, 2002 he was voted to succeed Trent Lott as Senate Majority Leader."

"From 1997-2002 his primary donors were health professionals ($600,000) and money-management companies ($265K), Federal Express ($30K), Vanderbilt University ($30K), Powell Construction ($25K), and HCA ($25K).

"Frist was a member of Nashville's all-white Belle Meade Country Club from the 1980s to December 1993, during his first run for office. His family have long been members.

"During that first campaign in 1994, he repeatedly accused his opponent, incumbent Senator Jim Sasser, of 'sending Tennessee money to Washington, to Marion Barry ... While I've been transplanting lungs and hearts to heal Tennesseans, Jim Sasser has been transplanting Tennesseans' wallets to Washington, home of Marion Barry.' During that campaign, he also attacked Sasser for his attempt to become Senate Majority Leader, claiming that his opponent would be spending more time taking care of Senate business than Tennessee business. Once Frist became a candidate for Senate Majority Leader himself, his concerns disappeared.

"In 1998 he visited African hospitals and schools with the Christian aid group Samaritan's Purse.

"He first entered the national spotlight when two Washington police officers were shot outside the United States Capitol. Frist, the closest doctor, provided immediate medical attention. He also was the Congressional spokeman during the 2001 anthrax attacks and was able to present an informed opinion to the media.

"As the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, he helped Republicans win back the Senate in the 2002 midterm elections. His committee collected $66.4 million in soft money for 2001-2002, 50% more than the previous year."

Issues: "His signature issues are HIV/AIDS, African poverty, health care, bioterrorism, and education.

"He is opposed to abortion except in the instances of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is threatened. He is opposed to federal funding of abortion. In the Senate, he led the fight against Intact dilation and extraction.

"Since being elected Senate Majority Leader, his past began to be scrutinized for scandal. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) publicized that Frist had made a practice of fraudulently adopting cats from animal shelters, then experimenting on and killing them while he was a medical student, and they asked him in an open letter to adopt a more animal-friendly agenda in his new position. Frist had admitted to his actions in his book Transplant: A Heart Surgeon's Account of the Life-and-Death Dramas of the New Medicine, calling it 'a heinous and dishonest thing to do.'" [2]

Frist: On Iraq and WMD

  • "I'm not sure that's the major reason we went to war." --NBC's Today Show.
  • "I am absolutely convinced, based on the information that's been given to me, that the weapon of mass destruction which can kill more people than an atomic bomb -- that is, biological weapons -- is in the hands of the leadership of Iraq." --MSNBC Interview, January 10, 2003.
  • "What is unique about Iraq compared to, I would argue, any other country in the world, in this juncture, is the exhaustion of diplomacy thus far, and, No. 2, this intersection of weapons of mass destruction." --NewsHour Interview, January 22, 2003.
  • "Let there be no mistake about our Nation's purpose in confronting Iraq -- Saddam Hussein's regime poses a clear threat to the people of United States, its friends and its allies, and it is a threat that we must address now." --Senate Speech, March 7, 2003.
  • "Getting rid of Saddam Hussein's regime is our best inoculation. Destroying once and for all his weapons of disease and death is a vaccination for the world." --Washington Post op-ed, March 16, 2003.
  • "The United States . . . is now at war 'so we will not ever see' what terrorists could do 'if supplied with weapons of mass destruction by Saddam Hussein." --Senate Debate, March 20, 2003.
  • "We simply cannot live in fear of a ruthless dictator, aggressor and terrorist such as Saddam Hussein, who possesses the world's most deadly weapons." --Speech to American Israel Political Action Committee, March 31, 2003.
  • "I am not eager to send young Americans into harm's way in Iraq, or to see innocent people killed or hurt in military operations. Given all of the facts and circumstances known to us, however, I am convinced that if we wait, a threat will continue to materialize in Iraq that could cause incalculable damage to world peace in general, and to the United States in particular." --Letter to Future of Freedom Foundation, March 2003.

Source: Whiskey Bar website.

More Quotes

  • On whether there was a connection between Iraq and the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US:
"I haven't seen that evidence."
  • On whether the systems in place to defend the Capitol are adequate:
"It is not where it needs to be. The other day, we had an airplane that was 2 minutes 38 seconds out from hitting the Capitol.... Our response was pretty good."
  • On whether he is being groomed to run for president:
"It is not a goal of mine. I am a heart- and lung-transplant surgeon ... and that's my life. My intention is to serve in the ... Senate for 12 years and then return to Nashville."
  • On whether President George W. Bush's policy on stem-cell research should be relaxed to help Alzheimer's patients:
"As a physician, you don't want to give undue hope or over-promise therapy to patients.... It is a disservice, and I would say ethically irresponsible to overpromise on research. [With] Alzheimer's, that's what happening. If you listed 20 promising research efforts [for Alzheimer's], stem-cell wouldn't be there. Yet, in the mind of the American people, you would put it No. 1. That is overpromising."

Source: David T. Cook, Christian Science Monitor, June 21, 2004: "US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R) of Tennessee was Friday's guest. [These] are excerpts from his remarks."

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