Bill to re-open government includes payout to widow of NJ senator

The bill that the Senate sent to the House Wednesday night to re-open the government and raise the debt ceiling included a provision to pay a death benefit to the widow of the late New Jersey senator.

President Obama has been haranguing Congress for weeks that he wanted a “clean” temporary budget and debt limit increase, and he got what he wanted. Well, maybe it wasn’t completely clean.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Washington reporter Jamie Dupree, tweeted this provision tucked away and into the bill:


The actual text reads:

SEC. 146. Notwithstanding any other provision of this joint resolution, there is appropriated for payment to Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, widow of Frank R. Lautenberg, late a Senator from New Jersey, $174,000.

I have nothing against either widows or the late Sen Frank Lautenberg, and $174,000 admittedly isn’t going to break the bank — in my opinion, it was broken long ago.

That amount represents the late senator’s salary at the time of his death, and is customarily given to the survivors of deceased members of Congress.

But he died more than four months ago — June 3 to be exact. If it wasn’t important to pay survivor benefits in June, July or August, what’s the rush now? Especially given the fact that the $174 K is chump change to the widow.

The net worth of the 89-year-old lawmaker was somewhere “in the range of $55 million to $116.1 million in 2010, making him the fifth-wealthiest senator,” as Bloomberg reported.

New Jersey voters held an election and as a result, Newark Mayor Corey Booker will fill the remainder of Lautenberg’s Senate term.

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