The phrase "only in America" has a special meaning for Senator Frank R. Lautenberg. Lautenberg began his life as the son of poor but hard-working immigrant parents. Following their example, he rolled up his sleeves and pursued the American Dream.
He succeeded in spectacular fashion, first as a businessman and founder of a major computing services firm, and then as a United States Senator with a number of major legislative accomplishments.
An American Journey
Senator Lautenberg was born in Paterson, New Jersey, the son of Polish and Russian immigrants who came to the United States through Ellis Island. His early life was unsettled as his parents moved about a dozen times while struggling to support the family.
Lautenberg's father, Sam, worked in the silk mills, sold coal, farmed and once ran a tavern. When Lautenberg was 19, his father died of cancer. To help his family, he worked nights and weekends until he graduated from Nutley High School.
After graduating from Nutley, Lautenberg enlisted and served in the Army Signal Corps in Europe. Following the war, he attended Columbia University on the G.I. Bill and graduated with a degree in economics.
With his military service completed and his education secured, Lautenberg set out to build a career. He joined with two boyhood friends from his old neighborhood to found the nation's first payroll services company, Automatic Data Processing. Lautenberg served as chairman and CEO, and along with his partners developed ADP into one of the largest computing services company in the world.
From CEO to Senator: A new career, another success
Sen. Lautenberg always knew that his success was a uniquely American story. He wanted to give something back to the nation that had given him so many opportunities. He decided to launch a new career in politics and - running for his first public office - was elected to the Senate in 1982. He was re-elected in 1988 and 1994, and returned to win a fourth term in 2002.
Over his first three terms in the U.S. Senate, Lautenberg built a solid record of accomplishment on a broad range of issues that touch the lives of New Jerseyans: helping to balance the federal budget, stopping aid to nations that support terrorism, keeping guns out of the hands of convicted domestic abusers, banning smoking on airplanes, getting drunk drivers off our roads, protecting our oceans and environment, and improving our transportation system.
Lautenberg retired from the Senate in 2000, but he returned in 2002 to once again serve New Jersey and the nation.
Fighting for New Jersey Families
Since returning to the Senate, Senator Lautenberg has picked up where he left off, working to improve the lives of New Jersey families. He has fought to save health insurance for thousands of children, reimburse military families who bought body armor for their loved ones serving in Iraq, modernize the G.I. Bill, strengthen Amtrak, increase security along our railroads and at our ports and chemical plants, reverse global warming, provide justice for victims of terrorism, make college more affordable, turn federal buildings “green” and protect our beaches and oceans.
Lautenberg serves on the Appropriations Committee, the Budget Committee, the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee. He is also the chairman of two Senate subcommittees that deal with port safety, railroads, commercial cruise ships, drunk driving laws, oil spills, wetlands and water quality.
In a place that is often plagued with gridlock and inertia, Senator Lautenberg has always been someone who bucked the rules, stood up for what he believed, and persisted in making a difference.
Senator Lautenberg resides in Cliffside Park. He has a wife, Bonnie, four children and ten grandchildren.