NBC10 - Cydney Long
The 89-year-old Sen. Frank Lautenberg died after complications from viral pneumonia. His legacy as a politician has left a mark on politicians and the state of New Jersey. NBC10's Cydney Long reports.
U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey has died.
Lautenberg died at 4:02 a.m. Monday of complications from viral pneumonia at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell, his office said in a statement. He was 89-years-old.
The last remaining World War II veteran serving in the U.S. Senate, the longtime Democrat has served as a U.S. Senator twice.
He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1982. He won two more terms before retiring in January 2001. Lautenberg left retirement and was re-elected in 2002 and most-recently in 2008.
The nation's oldest senator, Lautenberg cast more than 9,000 votes during his five-terms at the U.S. Capitol, according to his office.
Lautenberg authored national drunk driving legislation which resulted in a nationwide blood alcohol standard of .08 and the 21-year-old legal drinking age.
He also passed the law banning smoking on airplanes and wrote the "Toxic Right to Know" law requiring businesses to notify the public about pollutants being released into the air.
In a statement, President Barack Obama says he and first lady Michelle Obama are sending their condolences to Lautenberg's family and to New Jersey residents. He says the New Jersey Democrat improved countless Americans' lives by focusing on health and safety, including his work to promote gun control.
Growing up poor in Paterson, Lautenberg's father worked in a silk factory and died at 43. He used the G.I. Bill to attend Columbia University and went on to found the multimillion-dollar company Automatic Data Processing.
Lautenberg's death leaves one of New Jersey's two U.S. Senate seats vacant. The decision as to who should fill that seat resides with Republican Governor Chris Christie.
Christie's appointee will serve until the next regularly-scheduled statewide general election in November 2014.
Christie also ordered all state buildings to fly flags at half-staff on Wednesday in honor of Lautenberg.
Lautenberg is survived by his wife Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, their six children and 13 grandchildren.
Funeral services for the senator will be held Wednesday morning at the Park Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan.