Former U.S. Rep. and Fort Lauderdale Mayor E. Clay Shaw, has died at age 74 after a lengthy battle with lung cancer.
Shaw was born in Miami in 1939 and, for 26 years, represented Broward County and parts of Palm Beach County.
In 1996, Shaw sponsored the welfare bill that changed decades-old government policies and enforced more stringent rules on those who applied for it. The bill was both contentious and controversial at the time, during Bill Clinton's presidency.
Shaw began his career as a congressman during Reagan's presidency in 1980 and kept his seat for more than three decades, until 2006.
He remained a spirited campaigner even after having a tumor removed from his lung.
"I just hate to lose," Shaw said in December 2006. "I'm not used to it."
During his political career, Shaw also worked closely with former Democratic Sen. Bob Graham to promote Everglades restoration. He also helped write a law that mustered the armed services to help block drug trafficking in 1988.
In 2002, the newly constructed 17th Street Causeway bridge in Fort Lauderdale was reopened thanks to federal funding secured by Shaw.
The bridge now bears his name.
"For over a quarter century, Clay Shaw epitomized everything a public servant should be and made South Floridians proud," said Marco Rubio in a statement. "I was always impressed by Clay's work on the causes he was most passionate about. Clay's impact on America will forever be felt through the important reforms he championed on welfare reform, Social Security reform and Everglades restoration. My wife Jeanette and I are praying for Clay's wife, Emilie, and their family in this time of grief, and I hope they will find some comfort in knowing he lived an extraordinary life in the service of his community and his country."
"Representative Shaw's willingness to work across the aisle to solve problems made him an effective champion for Florida seniors, environmental treasures like the Everglades, and our nation's children," Gov. Rick Scott said in his statement. "Ann and I join all Floridians as we mourn the passing of such an influential man."
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