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Frank Church: A Featured Biography

Photograph of Senator Frank Church of Idaho

As a senator from Idaho, Frank Church championed wide-ranging causes. He played a major role in creating protected wilderness areas, floor managing the Wilderness Act of 1964 and authoring the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. As chairman of the Committee on Aging, he supported legislation to provide automatic cost of living adjustments for Social Security recipients. Church forged his legacy, however, in the realm of national security and foreign policy, serving 24 years on the Foreign Relations Committee—the final two as chairman. He was an early critic of the Johnson administration’s Vietnam War policies, and in 1971 he co-authored an amendment to the foreign aid authorization bill to stop all funding for the war in Southeast Asia. In 1975 Church chaired the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, a 16-month investigation of national intelligence agencies. Heavily criticized for his support of the Panama Canal Treaties in 1978, Church was defeated for reelection in 1980.