House eliminates payout to wealthy senator’s widow

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After an outcry, the House has dropped a $174,000 payment to the widow of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg from its stopgap spending bill.

Paying a death gratuity to the spouses of lawmakers who passed away while in office has been a common practice, and both the House and Senate had included the money in previous versions of their year-end spending bills.

But an ethics group questioned the payout to Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, wife of the late Democratic senator, who was worth an estimated $56.8 million, according to Roll Call’s 2012 survey of lawmakers’ wealth.

As a gift, the money would have been tax free.

The House passed two different versions of its spending bills early Sunday morning.

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