Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) died Monday morning of viral pneumonia, The Record reported. He was 89 years old.
Lautenberg, who retired from office on February 15, had missed several votes due to health issues dating back to late 2012. Gov. Chris Christie (R) will determine his replacement.
He was wheeled into a May 16 meeting of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to vote on the nomination of Gina McCarthy to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, which carried in a 10-8 vote after Republican committee members backed down on a threatened boycott.
“It is a joyful experience to see your beautiful face here,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) told Lautenberg at the time. “All of us here feel that way.”
Update, 10:07 a.m. EST: Lautenberg’s record was highlighted in a statement released by his office on Monday, including his authorship of the bills setting the federal standard of a .08 blood-alcohol level for drunk driving and 21 as the legal drinking age; writing the law barring domestic abusers from owning firearms and passing the law that bans smoking on airplanes.
“Senator Lautenberg was born the son of immigrants and grew up poor in Paterson, New Jersey,” the statement said. “He enlisted in the military at the age of 18 and served in the Army in Europe during World War II. Upon returning home, he graduated from Columbia University with the help of the G.I. Bill. He joined with two boyhood friends to found Automatic Data Processing (ADP), which today employees 57,000 people worldwide and 4,500 in New Jersey.”
Lautenberg was the last World War II veteran serving in the Senate. He is survived by his wife, Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, six children and 13 grandchildren.
[Image by Flickr user MikeSheridan89 via creative commons license]