Lautenberg, who at the age of 89 was the oldest member of the Senate, died of viral pneumonia. He was the longest-serving senator in New Jersey history and the last remaining World War II veteran serving in the Senate .
Senator Lautenberg was a long-time leader on environmental protection, transportation and protecting public health. His career highlights include passing the law that banned smoking on airplanes, authoring the law that prevented domestic abusers from possessing guns and writing landmark drunk driving laws, including the nationwide .08 blood alcohol standard and the 21 year drinking age law.
Earlier this year, Lautenberg announced he would not seek a sixth term in the Senate. At his announcement in his hometown of Paterson, he set out an agenda for the remaining two years of his term that included reforming U.S. chemical safety laws, improving gun safety laws, and providing federal resources for New Jersey to rebuild from Superstorm Sandy.
The Democrat’s untimely death leaves a vacancy that according to Governor Chris Christie, will be filled.