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Veteran Sen. Lautenberg dies

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By Dana Bash
CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent

(CNN) — Sen. Frank Lautenberg, the New Jersey Democrat who served five terms in the U.S. Senate since 1982 and was the chamber’s last surviving World War II veteran, died Monday of viral pneumonia, his office announced.

Lautenberg, 89, missed key Senate votes late last year during a weeks-long absence due to a cold that turned into what he called a “severe case of bronchitis with fluid in the chest.”

He announced in a statement in February he would not seek re-election next year.

Lautenberg was first elected to the Senate in 1982 and won re-election twice. He did not seek re-election in 2000 when his third term expired, but was recruited to run again two years later after Democratic Sen. Robert Torricelli quit his re-election bid weeks before the polls opened amid reports of ethical issues. Lautenberg was then re-elected in 2008.

He was a member of the United States Army Signal Corps from 1942 to 1946, according to his biography.

Lautenberg served on the powerful Appropriations Committee, as well as on the Environment and Commerce committees in the Senate.

CNN’s Susan Candiotti contributed to this report

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