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Public Statements

Mourning the Passing of Senator Frank Lautenberg

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Madam Speaker, last week New Jersey lost its senior Senator, and the Senate lost its last remaining World War II veteran when Senator Frank Lautenberg passed away at the age of 89. He died from complications from viral pneumonia in New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Since then, on this floor on multiple occasions, in the United States Senate, throughout the State of New Jersey, and, frankly, across the Nation, all of us have paused to express our deepest respect for Senator Lautenberg and sorrow on his passing. To Senator Lautenberg's family--his wife, Bonnie, his six children, and his 13 grandchildren--please accept our deepest condolences and our prayers.

Senator Lautenberg served five terms in the U.S. Senate on behalf of the people of the State of New Jersey. He was first elected to the Senate in 1982, reelected in 1988 and 1994. After a brief retirement, Senator Lautenberg made an unexpected comeback and won a fourth term in 2002 and was again reelected in 2008.

In December 20ll, he cast his 9,000th vote and now holds the record for the most votes ever cast by a New Jersey Senator.

While serving in the Senate, Frank Lautenberg became a leader of public health and safety issues. He led the effort to ban smoking on airplanes with the enactment of Public Law 101-164, and will forever be remembered for his efforts to protect individuals and children from secondhand smoke.

Frank Lautenberg also fought for transportation improvements and chemical plant safety. As the author of the Lautenberg amendment, he worked to assist members from historically persecuted groups with a credible fear of persecution to qualify for refugee status, including religiously persecuted Soviet Jews. He also fought for relief for the victims of terrorist attacks, including the first responders who experienced health complications after the 9/11 attacks, and for the families and communities across our State recently devastated by Superstorm Sandy.

Senator Lautenberg was the last veteran of World War II--part of the Greatest Generation--to serve in the U.S. Senate. The son of poor immigrants, he enlisted in the Army to serve his country in uniform, went to school on the GI Bill, began a successful business, and then ran for the Senate to, in his words, ``pursue a career in public service and to give back to the country that helped give him so much.''

Senator Lautenberg has been a mainstay of New Jersey politics for decades, and with his passing, the Senate and our State has lost a dedicated public servant.

I now yield to the former mayor of Paterson, a good friend and colleague, Congressman BILL PASCRELL.


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