Sen. Frank Lautenberg dies at 89

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 6/3/2013

Sen. Frank Lautenberg did not always see eye-to-eye with truckers or the trucking industry, but no one could deny his passion for highway safety. Lautenberg died Monday morning, June 3, at the age of 89. He was the oldest member of the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (1924-2013)

It was just a month ago, on May 7, when the senior Democratic senator from New Jersey rolled out a bill he had been trying to pass for years – a bill that would prevent large shippers and mega carriers from increasing truck size and weight on America’s interstates. OOIDA stood with Lautenberg then and continues to support that particular bill known as SHIPA, the Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act of 2013.

In his no-nonsense style, Lautenberg rarely passed up an opportunity to take a swipe at large trucks – especially when discussing truck size and weight. He recently referred to double and triple trailers as “killer trucks” and called longer-heavier trucks a “threat to drivers and the integrity of our highways and bridges.”

He championed Amtrak, promoted rail and intermodal freight movement, and sponsored legislation that he believed would take trucks off the highway. He also took action against drunk driving and successfully campaigned to end smoking on commercial flights.

Lautenberg, who served five terms in the Senate, was most recently the chairman of the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security as part of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He was also chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and was a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Lautenberg had already decided not to seek re-election, and had battled health problems, including stomach cancer in 2010 and viral pneumonia in recent weeks.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, will appoint someone to fill Lautenberg’s seat. Senate leadership will be in charge of filling Lautenberg’s committee and subcommittee positions.

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