Performance is better than promise. That's the creed by which United States Senator Fritz Hollings has modeled his lifetime of public service. He is committed to generating economic growth for South Carolina; promoting education and equal opportunity; and providing the opportunity for all citizens to have healthy, secure and productive lives. He recognized early on that government must be fiscally accountable to the people in order to achieve these goals.

A brief examination of Senator Hollings' record of legislative achievement reveals that he has remained true to his mission throughout a distinguished political career.

Fritz Hollings has been fighting for South Carolina most of his life. A native of Charleston, he graduated from The Citadel in 1942 and immediately received a commission from the U.S. Army. He served as an officer in the North African and European campaigns in World War II, receiving the Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons. When he returned from the war, he entered the University of South Carolina School of Law. Working through holidays and summers, he graduated in 1947 -- less than three years after he began.

The following year, at age 26, he began his long career of public service when he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives. In his second term, his peers voted him Speaker Pro Tempore, a post to which he was re-elected in 1953. Two years later, he became Lieutenant Governor. In 1958, recognizing his leadership, achievements and dedication to public service, the people of South Carolina chose him for the highest office in the state. At 36, he was the youngest man in the 20th century to be elected Governor of South Carolina.

Progressive Governorship

As governor, Hollings established his well-deserved reputation for economic common sense and laid the foundation for the economic growth that has made South Carolina a modern success story. South Carolina was stalled in the late 1950s, mired in an outdated economy with a budget in the red. Hollings balanced the state's budget for the first time since 1895 and, under his leadership, South Carolina became the first Southern state to earn the coveted AAA credit rating.

He was also the father of technical education in South Carolina, starting the statewide system of technical colleges. With this training, South Carolinians who grew up on farms and in mill towns were able to learn marketable vocational skills for the first time ? skills that enabled them to obtain better jobs and wages. Today, thanks to Senator Hollings' vision of education that emphasizes job training, South Carolina has attracted multinational companies like BMW and Michelin. The state also enjoys one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the nation.

Early Senate Years

In 1966, South Carolinians elected Hollings to the United States Senate to fill the unexpired term of Olin Johnson, an office to which he's been elected seven times. Early in his Senate career, Senator Hollings focused on the poverty and hunger that gripped the rural South and urban areas of the country. In 1968, he embarked on his now famous hunger tours, which spawned his acclaimed 1970 book The Case Against Hunger: A Demand for a National Policy and fostered a new government commitment to improving programs for the poor. Senator Hollings believes it is "better to feed the child than to jail the man" so he co-authored national legislation that created the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children, popularly known as WIC, which was modeled after a pilot program in South Carolina's Beaufort County.

Senator Hollings was also quick to establish what has become a longstanding commitment to environmental policies when, in 1972, he wrote and steered through Congress the National Coastal Zone Management Act, the nation's first land use law designed to protect coastal wetlands. In the early and mid 1970s, he also pushed to establish the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), authored the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and fought for passage of the Ocean Dumping Act and the Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

Recent Senate Work

Having been elected to the Senate for the seventh time in 1998, Senator Hollings is in the fifth year of his current term. Today, he is the fourth most senior member of the Senate.

Senator Hollings serves as Ranking Member on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee where he champions a wide range of issues such as telecommunications, transportation security, consumer protection, coastal preservation and research, and trade policy. As a principal author of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, Hollings has worked throughout his career to promote competition within the telecommunications industry and to ensure that consumers benefit from innovative technologies at reasonable prices. As a result of the September 11th attacks, Hollings led the effort to pass transportation security legislation for our nation's port, railroad, and aviation systems in an effort to bolster national security and protect American citizens.

In terms of U.S. trade policy, Senator Hollings seeks to reinvigorate economic competitiveness and protect American jobs, while improving U.S. manufacturing and production capabilities. Additionally, Hollings believes that greater understanding and improved management of ocean and coastal ecosystems are essential to maintain healthy coasts and to prepare communities for natural hazards such as hurricanes. He continues to work to better the lives of South Carolinians and the people of our nation.

Senator Hollings also serves as the longest-serving member of the Senate Budget Committee where he works to take the country down the path to "true surplus." He was the first voice in the Senate to decry the practice of looting Social Security, Medicare and other Trust Funds to camouflage the size of the deficit. Today, Hollings continues to fight for fiscal responsibility, and he constantly presses Congress to put the nation back on a "pay-as-you-go" basis rather than burdening future generations with escalating federal deficits and debt.

As the third ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Ranking Member of the Commerce, Justice and State Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Hollings uses his seniority, experience and know-how to fight for responsible government and South Carolina's fair share. He initiated a nationwide effort to combat breast and cervical cancer by utilizing his seat on the Appropriations Committee to secure funding for a pilot screening program. Thanks to Senator Hollings, South Carolina was among six states selected for this landmark initiative, which has screened 115,000 South Carolina women and detected more than 1,300 occurrences of cancer. With Senator Hollings' help, the state has received funding for this program as well as others to complete new infrastructure projects, improve public education, attract new businesses, and protect the environment in South Carolina.

Senator Hollings was raised in a family with four siblings and a hard working mother and father. He currently has 4 children and 7 grandchildren. He and his wife, Peatsy, are very involved in South Carolina as well as in the Washington community. From World War II officer to South Carolina legislator to Governor to United States Senator, Senator Hollings has dedicated his life to public service. He works to generate economic growth for South Carolina, promote education and equal opportunity, and advocate a progressive, national public policy. An independent leader who tells it like it is, Hollings does not rely on rhetoric. His record speaks for itself.


About Fritz Hollings

Ernest F. Hollings served the public for 56 years -- 38 years in the United States Senate and as South Carolina's governor, lieutenant governor and a member of the S.C. House of Representatives. Today, Hollings continues to be influential in public affairs and offers this website as a compendium of current and past positions on public issues. Learn more about Fritz Hollings.

The Hollings legacy

Click here to learn more about Hollings' impressive and distinguished record of public service.


2016 commentaries

2015 commentaries

Previous commentaries

Read the book

The University of South Carolina Press in 2008 published Making Government Work by Sen. Hollings. Learn more.

Receive commentary via The Huffington Post

Please visit Sen. Hollings' section of The Huffington Post where you can get an RSS of his columns, subscribe by email or use social media.