Congressional Funerals?
January 21, 2009 9:58 AM   Subscribe

The former Congressman for my district passed away today. Do former members of U.S. Congress have special funerals? Do current members of U.S. Congress have special funerals if they die while in office? If so are they the same as military funerals?
posted by bilbo baggins to Law & Government (4 answers total)

A lot of members of Congress are also veterans, and as such would be entitled to military funerals.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:22 AM on January 21, 2009

As far as I know, only sitting representatives and senators are afforded anything like a state funeral. Former Presidents get the works, but there are just too many congressmen for that kind of thing to be practical. There are well over one hundred former senators, most of whom are well past 65, and of the hundred oldest surviving former members of the House, the youngest is 84. So while a former President only dies every decade or so, you'll have a dozen or so former congressmen die every year. I'm sure there is some formal observance in their former chamber, even if it's only a moment of silence, but I don't think there's much more than that.
posted by valkyryn at 12:03 PM on January 21, 2009

Rarely, Congress will authorize lying in state or more often lying in honor in the Capitol.

Generally a former Congressman or Senator will have had state offices on their resume, and it is much more common that their home state will honor them in some way, especially if they were a governor. In 2005, Wisconsin held a memorial service for Gaylord Nelson, probably the most celebrated politician from the state since Robert M. "Fighting Bob" LaFollette. Nelson was a Senator, before that Governor, and founded Earth Day along the way. A step down from that would probably be Rev. Robert Drinan, five-term Congressman, who attracted some big names to his funeral mass but was not specifically honored. And that was a well-liked Congressman.
posted by dhartung at 9:21 PM on January 21, 2009

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