Lawmakers from Congress gathered Tuesday in Chicago and others will meet today in Alaska, as officials give their last goodbyes to former Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-IL) and former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), who both died last week.
The Stevens funeral will see a larger delegation of lawmakers than those who attended the Rostenkowski funeral yesterday in Chicago.
Vice President Joseph Biden and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell will lead a bipartisan delegation of current and former Senators to Anchorage to honor the longest serving Republican in the Senate's history.
Others expected include former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker (R-TN), former Senator and White House Chief of Staff John Sununu (R-NH) and former Sen. Mack Mattingly (R-GA).
Stevens served in the Senate until just two years ago, when he was defeated in a re-election bid in 2008 after being convicted of corruption, a conviction that was later overturned.
His fresh memories in Washington definitely led to him receiving the lion's share of attention from current members of the Congress over the past week.
While some Democratic leaders issued statements remembering the Republican Stevens, they said little to nothing about Rostenkowski's death, most likely because of how the Chicago Democrat's career ended with a 17 month jail term for corruption back in the mid-1990's.
With ethics troubles in their own party, Democrats probably determined it would be better not to say too much about someone who left the Congress under an ethical cloud.
That made it all the more ironic that one of the lawmakers sighted at Rostenkowski's funeral yesterday in Chicago was Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), a former Ways and Means Committee Chairman - like Rostenkowski - who is fighting his own ethics charges.
Other familiar faces included current Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), former Sen. Bill Bradley (D-NJ), former Rep. Ed Jenkins (D-GA), former Commerce Secretary Bill Daley (the mayor's brother) and a number of aides who worked for and with Rostenkowski during his time in Congress from 1959 to 1994.
While the Stevens funeral will have more of a national hue to it today because of Vice President Biden and other Senators in attendance, the Rostenkowski funeral was much more Chicago-centric, and that's probably the way the gruff Illinois Democrat would have preferred it.
Mayor Richard Daley called Rostenkowski a "force of nature" in a eulogy, ticking off a variety of local projects that he helped to fund over the years for the Windy City.
One of the honorary pallbearers at the funeral was my father, who met Rostenkowski while working for several Illinois lawmakers during the early part of his career on Capitol Hill.
"It was the Last Hurrah, Chicago-style," my father told me by phone, running down the familiar names of important Chicago Democrats and Rostenkowski aides that he had worked with during his time as a Congressional staffer and later as a lobbyist.
"These were the people I worked with," my dad said. "It was just wonderful to see everybody."
I thought seriously about going to the funeral with my father, since Rostenkowski gave me my start on Capitol Hill, sponsoring me thirty years ago as a Page in the U.S. House of Representatives, getting me jobs three different summers between 1980-82.
But even though I would have known a lot of the Washington contingent, I decided this was my father's turf, his time to gather with colleagues and remember all the hard work, all the friendships and all the victories often made possible by Rostenkowski.
"I feel like it was a validation of everything I've done," my father said, his voice filled with emotion.
"But it's over now."
One would expect there would be similar sentiments from some in the audience at the Stevens funeral today as well.
The members of the state ethics commission, eager to bring order to one of the most disordered corners of state government, hired a “receiver” last week to heal their agency and then did they only thing they could.
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