Senate bids farewell to Frank Lautenberg

The U.S. Senate formally bid goodbye to the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) Thursday with a rare ceremony held for the last World War II veteran serving in the chamber.

Ceremonies for Lautenberg, who died Monday at the age of 89, began at the U.S. Capitol in the early afternoon, around the same time that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) decided to announce the late senator's temporary successor.

His flag-draped casket was carried up the Senate steps and into the chamber by a U.S. military honor guard, where it rested in the chamber atop the Lincoln Catafalque, a bier built for the coffin of President Abraham Lincoln.

The last senator to earn the honor was Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.), who died in 2010 and probably could have laid in repose in the Capitol Rotunda, but requested that ceremonies be held instead in the Senate chamber.

Later, members of the Lautenberg family greeted dozens of current and former lawmakers, including former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and several members of the New Jersey congressional delegation who may mount campaigns to succeed him: Reps. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.). (Holt announced early Thursday that he plans to run.)

Lautenberg, who served during World War II in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, will be buried Friday morning at Arlington National Cemetery.

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.

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