BIOGRAPHY: SENATOR LARRY PRESSLER
Admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court Bar, New York Bar, and District of Columbia Bar
[Member US Senate (R-SD), 1979-1997]
[Member US House (R-SD), 1975-1979]
ABOUT SENATOR PRESSLER:
Senator Larry Pressler served in the United States Congress in Washington DC for 22 years – split between 18 years in the United States Senate, and 4 years in the United States House of Representatives. A practical, moderate, centrist Republican, Senator Pressler dedicated his time in Congress to such issues as nuclear nonproliferation, and promoting an activist outreaching foreign policy for the United States. Since leaving Congress, Senator Pressler has worked as a writer, public speaker, businessman, lawyer, and professor.
Senator Pressler was raised on his family’s farm in Humboldt, South Dakota. Upon graduating from Humboldt High School, he received degrees from the University of South Dakota, Oxford University (Rhodes Scholar – 1965), Harvard Kennedy School, and Harvard Law School.
Though he was not drafted, Senator Pressler, volunteered to serve in the Vietnam War. Senator Pressler served two tours of combat duty in Vietnam as a Lieutenant in the United States Army, earning the Bronze Star for his service. Senator Pressler then joined the Foreign Service of the United States, and worked for a time at the State Department in Geneva, Switzerland.
Senator Pressler was elected to two terms in the United States House of Representatives between 1975-1979. He was then elected to the United States Senate, where he served from 1979-1997. During his three terms in the United States Senate, Senator Pressler eventually became Chairman of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. Senator Pressler was the primary sponsor of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which expanded television, telephone, and internet service on a nationwide basis.
Senator Pressler was also an active member of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was responsible for the so-called “Pressler Amendment,” which prohibited America from providing military aid to Pakistan unless the President could certify that Pakistan was not developing nuclear weapons. This had a strong impact on America’s relations with both India and Pakistan, the reverberations of which are still felt to this day.
Senator Pressler was an announced candidate for President of the United States in 1980, and drew national fame and praise for flatly turning down a bribe on tape in the ABSCAM scandal. Pressler drew praise from many national journalists for his actions, including from Walter Cronkite, who called Senator Pressler a “hero.”
Following his time in Congress, Senator Pressler has served on various boards, and taught at over twenty universities, including Harvard University and Oxford University. He was a Fulbright professor at both the University of Bologna in Italy, and Sciences Po in Paris, France. He is an active member of the South Dakota Hall of Fame.
Senator Pressler and his wife, Harriet, have one daughter, Laura, and four grandchildren in Massachusetts.