The National Head Start Association (NHSA) said Sen. Frank Lautenberg "will be greatly missed" as he was a champion of the federal program that benefits preschool-age children from low income families. Lautenberg was 89.
The Democrat was elected senator from New Jersey in 1982 and served through 2000, when he retired. He ran again for the Senate in 2002 and was again elected. He was re-elected in 2008 and served until his death Monday morning at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. Lautenberg was the last remaining World War II veteran serving in the U.S. Senate. He announced in February that he would not seek a sixth term in office.
In a joint statement, Yasmina Vinci, executive director of NHSA, and Veronica E. Ray, president of the Region II Head Start Associaition, offered their thoughts and prayers to Lautenberg's family and commended the late senator's military and government service as well as his commitment to New Jersey and the nation's Head Start children made after a long career in business.
"Frank Lautenberg led many successful efforts to improve the health, education and care for our children and families across the country," added Vinci and Ray, who is also executive director and CEO of The Leaguers, Inc., one of the oldest African-American nonprofits in New Jersey that operates Head Start programs across the Newark area. "His time in office marked a great expansion in access to high-quality early education, and we are honored to consider him a champion of Head Start. He will be missed."
In addition to his work for Head Start, Lautenberg included a provision in the 2012 Surface Transportation bill to keep fatigued commercial truck and bus drivers from behind the wheel by requiring these vehicles used in interstate travel to have electronic on-board recorders. Most school buses have remained exempt from this law. Lautenberg's provision also requires truck and bus operators to document driver hours-of-service.
Lautenberg also introduced the first major law to standardize the nation's legal drinking age of 21, and he introduced the legislation that became the law that requires all states to establish the 0.08 blood alcohol content limit for operating a motor vehicle. He also introduced the 2008 law that requires ignition interlocks be installed in vehicles owned by repeat drunk drivers.
The late senator also introduced the Asbestos School Hazard Abatement law designed to remove cancer-causing asbestos and radon from the nation/s schools.
Lautenberg is survived by his wife, Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg; six children and their spouses, Ellen Lautenberg and Doug Hendel, Nan and Joe Morgart, Josh and Christina Lautenberg, Lisa and Doug Birer, Danielle Englebardt and Stuart Katzoff, Lara Englebardt Metz and Corey Metz; and 13 grandchildren.