Lautenberg's casket brought to Senate floor

WASHINGTON – Close to 100 current and former senators and members of Congress lined up on the Senate floor to pay respects Thursday to New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg and his family.

The line, dotted by members of both parties and two top Obama administration officials, stretched through the Senate doors and into the hallways outside.

Sens. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, the Democratic and Republican leaders, presented a framed resolution to Lautenberg's wife, Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg.

She and the senator's children, stepchildren and grandchildren stood on the Senate floor, hugging and shaking hands with the many dignitaries who came to honor Lautenberg, who died Monday morning.

Lautenberg's casket, covered in a flag, lay in the well of Senate, a wreath to each side and Capitol police, in dress uniforms, standing guard.

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and treasury secretary Jack Lew came to the ceremony.

Sens. Mary Landrieu, of Louisiana, and Carl Levin, of Michigan, each bowed their heads in front of the casket, standing for several long moments in silence.

Sen. Max Baucus, of Montana, placed both hands on it, then stepped back and briefly paused.

Both Pennsylvania Senators, Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, were there.

So was New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez and New Jersey House members Rob Andrews, Bill Pascrell, Frank Pallone, Rush Holt, Donald Payne Jr. and Leonard Lance. (Holt and Pallone are each planning runs to replace Lautenberg).

Andrews, a South Jersey Congressman who ran against Lautenberg in 2008, arrived early, shaking hands with the family.

Holt brought his 99-year-old mother, Helen, who was in a wheelchair. Her late husband, Holt's father, was a senator from 1935-1941.


Others who paid their respects included Sens. Marco Rubio, Orrin Hatch, Ted Cruz and Dick Durbin, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

A nine-man military honor guard carried Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s casket into the Capitol this afternoon as the late senator’s family waited at the top of the stairs leading into the building.

Lautenberg’s staff lined the stairs, watching silently.

Lautenberg will lie in state on the floor of the Senate. This afternoon, fellow senators will have time to see the casket and pay their respects.

With gray clouds gathering overhead, and a flag at half staff, Lautenberg’s body arrived in front of the Capitol in a hearse. The honor guard, in dress uniform, removed the flag-covered casket, hoisted it onto their shoulders and marched it up the stairs leading into the Senate side of the Capitol.

At the top, the senator’s wife, children and grandchildren watched.

Once Lautenberg was inside, his wife, Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, joined arms with the Senate sergeant at arms and followed the honor guard in.