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Public Statements

Mourning the Passing of Senator Frank Lautenberg

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. HOLT. Madam Speaker, I thank my friends and colleagues in the New Jersey delegation for organizing this tribute to the late Senator Frank Lautenberg.

This is a personal loss as well as a loss for New Jersey and for this Nation. I don't think there has been, nor do I think there will ever be, anybody quite like Frank Lautenberg in the United States Senate.

What stands out to so many about Frank is that he never forgot his humble beginnings.
He was the son of immigrants who was born and raised among the silk mills of Paterson. His father died while he was serving in the Second World War--and ``serve'' is the right word. He saw service as his duty, as his life--serving other people, never forgetting the common person and the common good. The GI Bill sent him to Columbia University, and he always felt grateful for that and felt a need to pay back.

Much has been said in recent days about Frank's successful business career. And it certainly was a success. The qualities that drove Frank to be a successful businessman also made him an exemplary legislator. Frank was dogged; he was persistent. His colleagues in the Senate would sometimes laugh or smile about that--''Here comes Frank again to try to twist our arms.'' Frank did his homework; he knew what he was talking about, and he just kept fighting for equality of opportunity, for fairness, for safety, for ever-expanding access to the American Dream.

Frank's legislative legacy will remain relevant for generations to come. He fought tirelessly to keep trains and buses safe, to promote public health, to safeguard chemical plants, to keep cigarettes out of airplanes, and so much more. But what stands out in my mind is what Frank did to prevent drunk driving. As part of his transportation work, Frank established limits on blood alcohol levels and raised the drinking age. Today, you could fill several football stadiums with people who are alive only because of Frank Lautenberg--and not one of them knows who they are.

Throughout his time in the Senate, Frank was always thinking about the ordinary person. He never forgot that they were the people who had sent him to serve, he never stopped fighting, and the people of New Jersey knew that. They knew they had somebody in the Senate who was looking out for them.

Frank and I worked on a number of important issues together. From strengthening and securing our rail system to combating bullying with the Tyler Clementi bill, I always relished the opportunity to work with such a premier legislator as Frank was. I feel this loss very personally.

I again send my most heartfelt condolences to Bonnie and to Frank's children and grandchildren. I hope they find comfort in knowing that his ideas and his legacy will live on through the many lives he saved and touched.


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