January 15, 2002 - Washington Post: Longtime Representative Henry Reuss Dies

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Longtime Representative Henry Reuss Dies

Read and comment on this story from the Washington Post about on Henry Reuss who along with Hubert Humphrey proposed the idea of a government service "Peace Corps" in the late 1950s at:

Longtime Representative Henry Reuss Dies*

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Longtime Representative Henry Reuss Dies

By Graeme Zielinski

Washington Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, January 15, 2002; Page B07

Henry S. Reuss, 89, a Wisconsin Democrat who served in the House of Representatives for 28 years until retiring in 1983 as one of Congress's leading authorities on monetary and banking policy, died of congestive heart failure Jan. 12 at a hospital in San Rafael, Calif.

Mr. Reuss, a congressional proponent of home rule for the District, chaired the House Banking Committee from 1975 to 1981. He also had a keen interest in international affairs and in the late 1950s, along with Sen. Hubert Humphrey (D-Minn.), was an early proponent of establishing the Peace Corps.

He also was a foe of the Communist-baiting Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy (R-Wis.); an early supporter of civil rights, conservation and congressional reform legislation; and a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War.

Mr. Reuss was a leading critic of high interest rates as well as Ronald Reagan's economic policy, which he deemed tilted to the rich. He used hearings during his chairmanship of the Joint Economic Committee in the early 1980s to highlight his objections to both.

Though his intellect and integrity were lauded by Democrats and Republicans, Mr. Reuss was faulted at times for an aloof manner. He acknowledged that he was "not a backslapper," and he often miscalculated the degree of support from his colleagues for a steady stream of creative ideas -- some of them deemed outlandish.

For instance, Mr. Reuss held hearings in the 1970s on whether to pass a resolution deeming it the "patriotic duty" of Americans to have no more than two children. In 1974, he introduced a constitutional amendment to allow Congress a vote of "no confidence" in a president. And in 1975, he introduced an amendment that would allow two presidents who would handle different tasks.

As Banking Committee chairman, he pushed through landmark legislation that increased federal insurance on savings and loan accounts.

Henry Schoellkopf Reuss, a Milwaukee native, was a graduate of Cornell University and Harvard University's law school.

He practiced law in Milwaukee before moving to Washington in 1940 to work as assistant general counsel for the Office of Price Administration. He served as an infantry officer in Europe during World War II and was awarded a Bronze Star. After the war, he worked in Paris helping to administer the Marshall Plan. He later returned to Milwaukee and ran unsuccessfully for mayor and Wisconsin attorney general.

He became an outspoken critic of McCarthy during a failed bid for the Democratic Party nomination for U.S. senator in 1952, the seat McCarthy held. He and other Democrats toured in a caravan, blaring anti-McCarthy speeches on loudspeakers in rural parts of the state.

In 1954, Mr. Reuss defeated a McCarthyite, Rep. Charles J. Kersten (R), for Congress in what was to be his only close contest for that office.

Over the years, Mr. Reuss pursued an interest in the decline of the big city, and in the 1970s, he chaired a special subcommittee devoted to the issue. He also took a particular interest in the Washington region and sponsored a wide variety of legislation to improve living conditions here, ranging from rat control to regional planning.

He was particularly proud of what he called his "statutory archaeology," in which he would unearth old legislation and put it to current use. One example was when he discovered an 1899 law that he used to punish polluters.

After leaving Congress, he practiced law at the Washington firm of

Rose, Schmidt, Chapman, Duff & Hasley and was active in various nonprofit organizations, including the Enterprise Institute, an affordable-housing group.

He moved to Tiburon, Calf., in 1995.

Survivors include his wife, Margaret Reuss of Tiburon; three children; seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

© 2002 The Washington Post Company

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