Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a World War II veteran, died this morning of viral pneumonia at age 89, his office said. The oldest member of the Senate, Lautenberg had struggled with health problems since late last year, when he missed several weeks of votes because of what he said was flu and bronchitis. Known as a fighter, he had become a rarely seen presence in Washington, D.C., beyond voting for gun-control legislation that failed in the Senate.
The death of Lautenberg, a Democrat who was the longest-serving senator in New Jersey history, creates a vacancy that Governor Christie, a Republican, will fill.
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