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Friday, February 15, 2013

Senator Lautenberg To Retire - Champion of the People

U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), champion of the people, will announce his retirement tomorrow.

“I will be traveling to my hometown of Paterson tomorrow to announce that I will not seek re-election in 2014. This is not the end of anything, but rather the beginning of a two-year mission to pass new gun safety laws, protect children from toxic chemicals, and create more opportunities for working families in New Jersey. While I may not be seeking re-election, there is plenty of work to do before the end of this term and I'm going to keep fighting as hard as ever for the people of New Jersey in the U.S. Senate."
Senator Frank R. Lautenberg 

“When I first ran for the Senate, my pledge was to always put the people of New Jersey first. Putting New Jersey first is the principle that has guided my every action—from building up our transportation network to making our environment healthier and our communities safer and more secure.”

A Great American Journey: From the Streets of Paterson to the Halls of Congress rank Raleigh Lautenberg was born the son of Russian and Polish immigrants who entered the United States through Ellis Island and worked hard to makes ends meet. Often saying that his parents “could not pass on valuables, but left him a legacy of values,” Lautenberg grew up poor in Paterson, and many other New Jersey towns, before graduating from Nutley High School. Lautenberg enlisted in the military at the age of 18 and served in the Army Signal Corps in Europe during World War II. Upon returning home from the war, Lautenberg was able to afford an education at Columbia University because of the G.I. Bill benefits he received for his military service. He graduated with a degree in economics that was presented to him by then-Columbia University President Dwight
D. Eisenhower.

After graduation, Lautenberg joined with two boyhood friends to found and later serve as CEO of Automatic Data Processing, better known as ADP, one of America’s most legendary business stories.

Always rooted in New Jersey, ADP started in Paterson, later moved to Clifton and is currently headquartered in Roseland. Today, ADP employs approximately 4,500 people in New Jersey and approximately 57,000 people around the world.

Lautenberg credits the G.I. Bill for the opportunities that helped him succeed. He left the business world to pursue a career in public service and give back to the country that helped give him so much. Lautenberg ran for an open Senate seat in 1982 as an underdog. He overcame the odds, defeated an establishment candidate and was sworn in to serve the first term of what would become a historic five-term Senate career. He is now the last World War II veteran serving in the U.S. Senate.

The Second Tour of Duty
Senator Lautenberg retired from the Senate in 2000 after three terms and major legislative victories on gun safety, transportation, public health and the environment. After a two-year hiatus from the
Senate, Lautenberg was elected again to the U.S. Senate in 2002 – and then re-elected in 2008.
During this “second tour of duty,” Senator Lautenberg built upon his record of accomplishments that make a real difference in people’s lives in New Jersey and the nation. From a groundbreaking law that revitalized Amtrak to the new 21st Century G.I. Bill to measures to help law enforcement track down terrorists seeking access to firearms, Senator Lautenberg has continued his long record of accomplishments.
Keeping New Jersey Moving
Few people in the history of New Jersey have contributed more to the expansion and safety of the state’s transportation system than Senator Lautenberg. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Senate Commerce Surface Transportation Subcommittee. Senator Lautenberg often quips that though he is not a Rhodes scholar, he is a proud “scholar of New Jersey’s roads.”

• Amtrak: The stability and growth of Amtrak is critical not just to interstate passenger rail, but to New Jersey Transit, which relies on Amtrak’s infrastructure on the Northeast Corridor and the tunnels into Manhattan to bring New Jersey commuters to work. In 2008, Congress passed Senator Lautenberg’s groundbreaking law revitalizing Amtrak and putting it on firm footing for the
challenges of the 21st Century.

• Transportation Funding and Jobs for New Jersey: In recent years Senator Lautenberg helped author major transportation bills that have increased federal transit spending in New Jersey by 50 percent and highway spending by 30 percent.

• Hudson-Bergen Light Rail: Senator Lautenberg has championed the HudsonBergen Light Rail since its inception, securing more than $1.1 billion in funding for the project. The project has
brought commercial and residential development to the Hudson River waterfront, helping to improve neighborhoods and increasing access to mass transit and jobs.

• Secaucus Junction Station: Lautenberg secured more than $500 million in Federal funding to create the NJ Transit Secaucus station, which now serves as a common link between most of New Jersey’s rail lines, allows Bergen County commuters to transfer to Manhattan and laid the groundwork for a new rail line directly to the Meadowlands for major events.

An Unparalleled Legacy of Transportation Safety
Lautenberg’s unparalleled record of making America’s roadways and transportation networks safer has saved countless lives and prevents tragic road accidents every day.

• Changing the Legal Drinking Age: One of Senator Lautenberg’s first major bills to be signed into law was legislation to standardize the legal drinking age across the country to 21 years old. Lautenberg’s stand against the liquor lobby has made America’s roads safer and saved countless lives.

• Cracking Down on Drunk Driving: Our nation’s roads became safer again on the day Lautenberg’s bill was signed into law that required all states to establish a .08 blood alcohol content limit as the minimum threshold for drunk driving. In June 2008, another Lautenberg law took effect to reduce drunk driving by requiring states to change laws so repeat drunk drivers are required to haveignition interlocks (which prevent a vehicle from starting if a sensor detects alcohol on a driver’s breath) installed on their cars and trucks.

• Preventing Air Traffic Control Privatization: In 2003, the Senate voted in favor of Senator Lautenberg’s amendment to prevent the Bush Administration’s dangerous plan to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system. Shortly thereafter, the Bush Administration dropped their reckless plan.

• Newark-Liberty Tower: Lautenberg secured funding to build Newark Airport’s new air traffic control tower to 325 feet, more than doubling its original height and helping controllers keep air travelers safe.

• Banning “Killer Trucks”: Looking out for the safety of New Jersey families and commuters across the country that share highways with commercial trucks, Lautenberg wrote the law to ban dangerous triple-trailer trucks, sometimes called “killer trucks.” These “killer trucks” are now banned from driving on roads in New Jersey and most other states. Lautenberg has continued to fight efforts to
allow bigger trucks on our roads, and a 2012 law includes a Lautenberg provision requiring the Department of Transportation to study the impacts of bigger trucks.

• Rail Safety: In 2008, Senator Lautenberg’s overhaul of railroad safety laws was signed into law, requiring railroads to improve safety by limiting hours of service, improving grade crossing safety and requiring new safety technology that will improve safety for rail passengers, automobile drivers and communities near rail lines.

• Truck and Bus Safety: The 2012 Surface Transportation law included Senator Lautenberg’s
provision to keep fatigued drivers from getting behind the wheel by requiring trucks and buses to have electronic on-board recorders to document driver hours in order to ensure that rules regarding
driver fatigue are being followed.

• Airport Runway Safety: In 2005, following incidents at Teterboro and other airports nationwide, Congress approved Senator Lautenberg’s legislation to require the FAA to bring all airport runways up to safety standards. At the time, over half of the nation’s runways did not meet these standards. In addition, in2012 Congress passed into law a number of provisions championed by Senator Lautenberg to increase airport runway safety by requiring the FAA to develop a plan to reduce runway incursions, make airport runway improvements, and develop a tracking system of operational errors and runway incursions.

• FAA Tech Center: As a longtime member of the Appropriations Committee, Lautenberg secured millions in Federal funding for the Federal AviationAdministration’s Technology Center in Atlantic County, where innovative NextGen air traffic control technology is being developed. The Tech Center is a major driver of the South Jersey economy and is considered the nation’s premier
aviation research, development and testing facility. The campus contains nearly 4,000 employees and is one of South Jersey’s largest employers. In 1997, Lautenberg successfully fought to block a consolidation effort that would have moved the Tech Center from New Jersey to Oklahoma.

Progressive Environmental Leadership Senator Lautenberg holds one of the most accomplished environmental records in the Senate and is among America’s most progressive environmental policy makers. Driven by his desire to leave a healthier future for our children and grandchildren, Lautenberg has stopped industry from compromising the environment, written laws and created government bodies and programs that have helped make America’s air, water and communities cleaner.

• Toxic “Right to Know”: When Lautenberg’s landmark “Toxic Right-to-Know” legislation was signed into law, it empowered the public for the first time to know what chemicals were being released into their neighborhoods and immediately changed the way chemical companies did business. For the first time, chemical companies were required to disclose the chemicals that were being released into their air, water and ground. The EPA’s widely utilized Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) database is a product of Senator Lautenberg’s law.

• Keeping our Beaches and Shore Clean: America’s oceans and beaches are cleaner today because of Senator Lautenberg’s work in the Senate. When Senator Lautenberg’s BEACH Act was signed into law it helped ensure that a day at the beach doesn’t become a day at the doctor’s office for families, swimmers and surfers. The law required federal monitoring of water quality standards at America’s beaches and created a grant program for states to improve water quality. This follows a law Sen. Lautenberg wrote years earlier to ban ocean dumping after medical waste from New York started washing up on New Jersey beaches.

• Preventing Oil Spills: In 2004, after the Athos I oil tanker spill in the Delaware River, Senator Lautenberg wrote a law that tripled the liability limit for shippers that did not use stronger, safer “double-hull” tanker ships. Following another spill in San Francisco in 2007, Lautenberg’s “Oil Spill Protection Act” was signed into law, requiring a double-hull protective layer around fuel tanks on all newly constructed, non-tank vessels, which include cargo and cruise ships.

• Stopping Oil Drilling Off the Jersey Shore: Also sensitive to the threat of oil being spilled on the New Jersey coastline from coastal drilling sites, Lautenberg led the charge to oppose and successfully stop a plan that would have opened the mid-Atlantic to leases for offshore drilling. Ultimately, the Department of Interior dropped its proposal and maintained the prohibition on offshore oil drilling in the mid-Atlantic Ocean.

• Rising Ocean Acid Levels: In 2009, Congress passed Senator Lautenberg’s law to require the federal government to study and take action on elevated ocean acid levels that are destroying marine wildlife, disrupting ecosystems and compromising fish stocks.

• Turning Brownfields to Clean Fields: In order to encourage private investment, Lautenberg wrote a law in 2004 to provide tax incentives for charities and universities that invest in cleaning up Brownfield sites. Determined to return economic vitality to New Jersey’s many abandoned industrial sites, Lautenberg is leading several current Senate efforts to invest in Brownfields, including a new bipartisan bill to be introduced this month.

• Superfund: Senator Lautenberg has been a long-time champion in the fight to clean up our nation’s toxic Superfund sites. He has successfully pushed EPA to clean up New Jersey sites on the “National Priorities List” (NPL), including the W.R. Grace & Co. site in Wayne Township and the Fort Dix site in Pemberton Township. He continues to fight to make sure that polluters—not taxpayers—pay to clean up contaminated sites.

• Trash Along Railways: In 2008, when unregulated rail waste sites began to proliferate along New Jersey’s rail lines, Senator Lautenberg wrote a law, the Clean Railroad Act, to allow states – for the first time – to regulate the health, safety, and environmental protection of solid waste handling at these sites.

• Great Falls in Paterson: In 2009, President Obama signed into law Senator Lautenberg’s legislation to make Great Falls in Paterson a National Historical Park. This natural wonder in New Jersey will now be a national treasure under the stewardship of the National Park Service.

• Green Buildings: Senator Lautenberg’s “High Performance Green Buildings Act” was signed into law in 2007, creating the Federal Office of High Performance Green Buildings to push the Federal government toward building LEED-certified green buildings that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve indoor air quality, and reduce the overall environmental impact of the nation’s federal buildings. As the new chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds Federal buildings, Senator Lautenberg will continue to move our national government toward healthier building guidelines.

• Removing Cancer-Causing Agents from Schools: Lautenberg’s Asbestos School Hazard Abatement law has removed cancer-causing asbestos and radon from our schools, ensuring a higher standard for environmental health for students and teachers.

• The Chemical Safety Board: As a part of the landmark Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, Lautenberg included language in the law that created the Chemical Safety Board (CSB). As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Lautenberg provided the initial Federal funding for the Chemical Safety Board, an independent federal agency that now makes workplaces and communities safer by investigating industrial accidents and hazards and recommending policies to prevent future harmful incidents.

• Preserving New Jersey’s Coast: Senator Lautenberg wrote the law to authorize and protect New Jersey’s Coastal Heritage Trail, which is managed by the National Park System. In addition, Senator Lautenberg wrote the “Coastal and Estuarine Land Protection Act,” which provides federal funding for states like New Jersey that have coastal management plans to protect environmentally sensitive lands. The Senator has provided millions in Federal funding for the Gateway National Recreational Area in Monmouth County and the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Atlantic and Ocean counties, and is currently leading the opposition to a plan that would shut down New Jersey’s James Howard National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) fisheries and marine science lab at Sandy Hook.Combating Terrorism and Bolstering Homeland Security Protecting the people of New Jersey from terrorist attack has long been a focus of Senator Lautenberg. New Jersey’s stretch of highway that hosts the airport, seaport, chemical plants and rail lines is considered one of the most dangerous areas for terrorism in the United States and Lautenberg has made significant strides to fortify it from terror threats. In addition, Senator Lautenberg has passed
groundbreaking laws that punish foreign governments that sponsor terrorism.

• No Foreign Aid for Terror States: Senator Lautenberg was a prime author of laws banning foreign aid to countries that sponsor terrorism.

• Real Sanctions on Iran: In August 2012, President Obama signed into law an Iran sanctions package that included language authored by Senator Lautenberg that places penalties on U.S. companies whose foreign subsidiaries are doing business in Iran – closing a loophole that allowed U.S. companies to help the Iranian Government profit from its oil operations.

• Port Security: In 2006, Senator Lautenberg wrote a law that sought to take the politics out of homeland security funding. Lautenberg’s law required that funding of all federal port security grants to be allocated entirely on the basis of risk. This was the beginning of a successful movement to base homeland security funding on risk – not politics.

• Chemical Plant Security: Senator Lautenberg wrote a 2007 law to preserve New Jersey’s strong chemical plant security laws and allow them to be stronger than federal regulations. The Lautenberg law prevented the Bush Administration from moving forward with its proposal to preempt and nullify New Jersey’s strong chemical security laws.

• Justice for Victims of Terrorism: Senator Lautenberg’s work on behalf of victims of terrorism spans three decades, beginning when the tragic 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Flight 103 claimed the lives of 38 New Jerseyans. Following the attack, Lautenberg helped author the Aviation Security Act of 1990, which overhauled aviation security in America. In 1996, Senator Lautenberg wrote a law that allowed victims of terrorism to bring legal action against foreign governments that sponsor terrorist acts. In 2000, he sponsored legislation that helped the Flatow and Duker families of New Jersey recover damages owed them by Iran as a result of an Iranian-sponsored terror attack in Israel. Senator Lautenberg then wrote a law in 2008 to strengthen the rights of terrorism victims to sue state sponsors of terrorism and go after their hidden commercial assets for compensation. This law was widely credited with bringing Libya to the negotiating table, which resulted in the Libyan Claims Resolution Act, a new law that implemented a final settlement agreement and resolved all outstanding U.S. terrorism claims against Libya, including the amount owed by Libya for the 1988 Pan Am 103 bombing. Later in 2008, this new settlement agreement was signed by both countries and Libya deposited into a U.S. account the amounts it owed to settle cases brought by U.S. terror victims.

• Transportation Security Lab in Atlantic County: Following passage of the Aviation Security Act in 1990, Lautenberg saw to it that this lab, which opened in 1993, was located in New Jersey at the FAA Technical Center in Atlantic County. The Transportation Security Lab (TSL) today remains a major employer in South Jersey.

• Newark-Liberty Airport Security Screening: In 2007, Senator Lautenberg’s legislation to remove arbitrary caps on the number of baggage screeners was signed into law, allowing the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to hire more screeners for Newark Airport and other airports around the country. Following a security breach at Newark in 2010, Lautenberg wrote legislation that was signed into law to increase the use of security cameras, further fortify secure “exit lane” areas in airports that were vulnerable to breaches, and increase penalties for security breaches.

Protecting Families from Gun Violence Senator Lautenberg is one of the few members of Congress
to have ever handed the NRA a defeat, and will continue to make gun safety reform a top legislative priority. As Congress debates new gun legislation in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, Senator Lautenberg has drafted some of the leading ideas, such as a ban on high-capacity gun magazines.

• Domestic Violence Gun Ban: Senator Lautenberg authored the law banning people convicted of
misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence from possessing or purchasing a firearm. Lautenberg’s law, passed in 1996, is the only significant gun safety legislation to pass Congress since the Assault Weapons Ban in 1994. This Lautenberg law has denied guns to domestic abusers more than 200,000 times. In February 2009, the United States Supreme Court upheld Senator Lautenberg’s law and rejected arguments by the gun lobby and a convicted domestic abuser that would have allowed domestic abusers to rearm themselves with guns. Senator Lautenberg submitted an amicus brief to the Court in defense of his law.