Ex-Senator Bob Dole Lies in State at Capitol Rotunda Ceremony

by Jennifer Shea

Former Senator Bob Dole is lying in state at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday as President Joe Biden and congressional leaders join his widow, former Sen. Elizabeth Dole, and daughter Robin for a private ceremony.

During the ceremony, lawmakers from both parties gathered to praise Dole, a former senator from Kansas who was also the Republican presidential nominee in 1996 and the Republican vice-presidential nominee in 1976. Biden called Dole, who was a friend of his, “a giant of our history.”

The late ex-senator’s casket will remain at the Capitol for the next 24 hours, USA Today reports. The Capitol will be closed to the public during that time.

Watch Dole’s casket arrive at the Capitol Rotunda here:

Bob Dole Draws Bipartisan Praise as His Casket Lies in State

At the Capitol, lawmakers and others who had worked with Dole saluted the late politician as a dedicated public servant. Biden said that while he often disagreed with Dole, the two senators had worked together “when it mattered most.”

“With Bob Dole, what you saw was what you got,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, per the Kansas Reflector. “And from his comrades in the 10th Mountain Division… to his constituents in Kansas… to the whole Senate and the entire country… what we got was extraordinary.”

“The world as we know it today is more accessible and inclusive for people with disabilities because of Sen. Bob Dole,” declared Maria Town, CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities. “His passing represents an enormous loss for AAPD, the disability community at large and the nation.”

In the wake of his death, Dole’s family noted in a statement that Dole never forgot his roots. And they said he represented the communities of “the wide open plains of his youth” with tenacity and dedication for decades, espousing a philosophy of “pragmatic conservatism.”

“Our family has lost its rock,” the Dole family added.

Dole Passed Away in His Sleep on Sunday

On Sunday, the former lawmaker and war hero passed away in his sleep at age 98. The Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced his death in a tweet.

That followed the news this February that doctors had diagnosed Dole with stage 4 lung cancer. In a statement released at the time, Dole put his diagnosis into perspective, saying he knew he joined millions of Americans “who face significant health challenges of their own,” according to The Hill.

Dole served in the military during World War II, earning two purple hearts and the bronze star. A near-deadly combat injury in Italy left him with limited use of his right arm for the rest of his life.

Dole went on to serve his country as a senator from 1969 to 1996, but his political career launched in 1950 in the Kansas House of Representatives, per Vanity Fair. Dole later represented Kansas’s 6th District in the House of Representatives before the senate seat opened up.

As a senator, Dole was a key player in passing 1990’s Americans with Disabilities Act, which protected the civil rights of disabled Americans. He returned to the Senate after his retirement to advocate for the United Nations’ Disabilities Treaty, which fell short of the votes needed for ratification in the Senate, Dole’s old stomping grounds.

Dole received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2018 in a ceremony that drew lawmakers from both parties. With his trademark sense of humor, Dole cracked that the legislators’ laudatory words were “probably not true, but they were nice.”