US Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) died. He was 89. The cause was viral pneumonia. Sen. Lautenberg, missed key Senate votes late last year during a weeks-long absence because of a cold that turned into what he called a "severe case of bronchitis with fluid in the chest."
Despite his illness, Sen. Lautenberg played a key role in modernizing the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The Lautenberg-Vitter “Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013,” introduced late last month, would:
• Require Safety Evaluations for All Chemicals;
• Protect Public Health from Unsafe Chemicals;
• Prioritize Chemicals for Review;
• Screen New Chemicals for Safety
• Secure Necessary Health and Safety Information;
• Promote Innovation and Safer Chemistry; and
• Protect Children and Pregnant Women.
Industry praised Lautenberg's TSCA reform efforts, noting that if the Senator hadn't supported the measure, co-sponsored by Senator David Vitter (R-LA), it never would have garnered widespread support in the Senate.
In a statement, the Consumer Specialty Products Association said:
"Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) served in the US Senate with integrity, passion and commitment in all things, but none more so than his call to strengthen national policies to protect public health and advance chemical safety. The Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) has been fortunate to have worked closely with him over the past five years on TSCA reform. We are saddened by his passing but know that his legacy is strong and will continue to provide leadership for others who follow."
The American Cleaning Institute (ACI), issued the following statement from Ernie Rosenberg, president and CEO, on the passing of Senator Lautenberg:
"On behalf of the American Cleaning Institute, I want to express our deepest condolences to the family, friends, staff and constituents of Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Our thoughts and prayers will be with all of them in the days and weeks to come. We know that he was very passionate about modernizing our nation's chemical safety laws. It is gratifying to know that that he was able to see bipartisan legislation introduced that represents a real breakthrough after many years of discussion. It is our hope that we will find ways to honor his memory and his legacy on this issue in the months to come."
According to New Jersey law, Republican Gov. Chris Christie can appoint a temporary replacement to serve until a special election in November or fill the rest of Lautenberg's term, which expires next year.
With the likelihood that Christie will appoint a Republican, the Democratic majority in the 100-member Senate would decrease to 52, along with two independents who caucus with the Democrats.