Budget deal includes $174K payout to widow of millionaire senator

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Alex Pappas
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      Alex Pappas

      Alex Pappas is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter for The Daily Caller. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and the Mobile Press-Register. Pappas is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was editor-in-chief of The Sewanee Purple. While in college, he did internships at NBC's Meet the Press and the White House. He grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he graduated from St. Paul's Episcopal School. He and his wife live on Capitol Hill.

Buried inside the budget deal brokered by Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid: a payout to the millionaire widow of the late Democratic senator Frank Lautenberg.

The Daily Caller obtained a copy of the draft legislation agreed to by the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate.

The agreement would re-open the government and raise the debt limit.

It also authorizes this expenditure: “Notwithstanding any other provision of this joint resolution, there is appropriated for payment to Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, widow of Frank R. Lautenberg, late a Senator from New Jersey, $174,000.”

The 89-year-old New Jersey Democrat died this summer.

USA Today reported last month that the proposed one-time payment to Bonnie Englebardt is equivalent to a full year’s salary for a senator. It’s a long tradition of Congress to make such expenditures to widows.


But is this expenditure necessary? The paper reported that not only was Lautenberg’s networth $56.8 million last year, his widow was unaware of the expenditure.

“I just learned about this recently in the news,” Lautenberg said. “I don’t want to comment on it until I make some decisions about how to handle this. I didn’t even know I was getting this money.”

Unlike the taxpayer-funded stipend for his rich widow, Lautenberg’s vast fortune was earned in the private sector. Before entering politics, the late senator spent many years running the payroll management colossus Automatic Data Processing, where he started as a salesman and ended up as CEO.

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