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Public Statements

Mourning the Passing of Senator Frank Lautenberg

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PAYNE. Thank you. I want to thank my colleague, Congressman Smith, for hosting this Special Order today.

Madam Speaker, I come before you today saddened by the passing of a fellow New Jerseyan. He was a dear friend and colleague, the honorable and venerated Senator from New Jersey, Senator Frank Lautenberg.

If anyone could embody the actual definition of the American Dream, it would be Frank Lautenberg. Born the son of Russian and Polish immigrants in Paterson, New Jersey, he grew up during the Great Depression.

When war hit our shores, he bravely served the country he loved in World War II, and he was the last of our Senators to do so.

When he returned home from war, Senator Lautenberg earned his degree on the GI Bill, which he later staunchly advocated for the extension of for our current men and women in uniform.

And never taking for granted the opportunities that lay before him, after his graduation, he and three of his friends, with just an idea and an entrepreneurial spirit, began an extremely successful company, ADP. If you get a payroll check these days, it is likely ADP printed your check. I guess you could say Senator Lautenberg was the proof that anything is possible if you firmly believe in what you're doing and what you put your mind to.

Later, he seamlessly transitioned from CEO of ADP to public servant, often demonstrating determination, grit, and leadership throughout his time in office that came to define Frank Lautenberg.

Throughout his five terms in office, Senator Lautenberg never forgot his roots. He was a committed advocate for the working middle class that he was the product of. As Senator Lautenberg knew best, We've got to open doors and not slam them shut. And he always practiced this outlook, no matter what he set out to achieve.

He tirelessly worked to make health care and higher education more affordable for working and middle class families. Even into his later years, Senator Lautenberg was one of the leading progressives on social issues. Thanks to Senator Lautenberg and his tremendous environmental work, we have cleaner water to drink and cleaner air to breathe.

He also recognized early on the proliferation of gun violence in our communities and the damage it was doing to our children and families. As a champion of gun-safety legislation, he made our neighborhoods a safer place to work and live.

And nothing was going to keep Senator Lautenberg from casting a critical vote on background checks on gun purchases this past spring. Though the late Senator did not get to witness the successful passage of this legislation, the fight in Washington will continue as we carry out the work of Senator Lautenberg's vision to keep our families and our children safer.

In closing, I want to extend my deepest sympathies to Bonnie, his daughter who I was able to meet last week, and his grandchildren. I had the honor of attending Senator Lautenberg's final tribute last week, and it was clear from that beautiful ceremony the incredible impact Senator Lautenberg has had on so many lives.

Senator Frank Lautenberg had a love of life and a commitment to the people in New Jersey that will be deeply missed in the Halls of Congress and in New Jersey. He was a great mentor to me, especially as the newest member of the New Jersey delegation. I will forever be grateful for his guidance and for all his tremendous work he did for New Jersey and our great Nation. We owe him an immense debt of gratitude for making New Jersey a better place to live. There is no doubt Senator Lautenberg will certainly be missed.


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