Minnesota’s longest-serving member of Congress, Jim Oberstar, died May 3. He was first elected to Congress in 1974 and represented Minnesota’s 8th Congressional district until 2011.
“Jim cared deeply about the people of Minnesota,” President Barack Obama said in a White House statement, “devoting his 36 years of service to improving America's infrastructure, creating opportunity for hardworking Minnesotans and building a strong economy for future generations of Americans. Jim will be deeply missed and Michelle and I send our condolences to his wife Jean, his children and grandchildren.”
Oberstar was the son of a miner, according to the Washington Post, who became a champion of infrastructure, especially transportation. In 2006, he became chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
"Jim Oberstar knew everything there was to know about our nation's infrastructure and fought tirelessly to rebuild and renew it," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, according to CNN.
“He was the leading infrastructure expert of our time,” said Vin Weber, a former Republican Congressman from Minnesota, according to the Washington Post.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx released the following statement regarding the passing of the 79-year-old Oberstar:
"Chairman Jim Oberstar's passion for sound transportation policy spanned decades, first as a staff person and eventually as chairman of the Congressional committee that writes and oversees our federal transportation laws.
"He was a tireless advocate for safety, consumer protections and robust federal investment so that the American public could continue to enjoy the best transportation system in the world.
"His personal imprint on our national transportation policies across all modes cannot be overstated. His principles and his legislative accomplishments continue to guide the work of the U.S. Department of Transportation each and every day."