POLITICS
10/16/2013 11:11 pm ET Updated Oct 17, 2013

Frank Lautenberg's Widow Reaps $174,000 In Senate Budget Bill

WASHINGTON -- Hours before Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) won a New Jersey special senatorial election to succeed the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D), U.S. senators paid tribute to Lautenberg in their own way.

Rushed to approve a 35-page deal to fund the government and avert a debt default, senators allowed a few unrelated provisions to slip through.

One was section 146, guaranteeing $174,000 -- the equivalent of one year's salary -- to Lautenberg's widow, Bonnie Englebart Lautenberg.

Frank Lautenberg died in June at age 89. He was named one of the 50 richest members of Congress by Roll Call in 2012, with a net worth of $56.8 million at the time. He purchased a $1.8 million condo at the West End Ritz-Carlton in Washington in 2003.

The budget bill also includes a provision granting a sizable funding boost to a lock and dam project on the Ohio River, benefiting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R) home state of Kentucky.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said he regretted the provisions, telling MSNBC host Rachel Maddows that he wished the Senate had passed a completely clean bill. He said he and other senators found out about the provisions just before voting, and should have had the opportunity to debate them.

"It's one of the reasons our popularity ratings are so low, it's because of surprises," Tester said.

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