Former senator Robert J. Dole, who died Sunday at age 98, will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Thursday, returning to the heart of the place that shaped nearly three decades of his political career and where he, in turn, produced so much of the work that would form his legacy.
Dole, a World War II veteran who was awarded two Purple Hearts, represented Kansas in the Senate from 1969 to 1996 and was the Senate Republican leader for more than a decade. He also sought the presidency three times, winning the Republican nomination in 1996 before losing to incumbent Bill Clinton.
In the days after his death, tributes to Dole poured forth from President Biden, former presidents, his former colleagues and current members of Congress from both sides of the aisle. They honored Dole’s service to the country and his devotion to military veterans and people with disabilities.
On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Dole had been an “exemplary” person to serve with in Congress, reminiscing about a time when there was mutual respect across the aisle despite disagreement.
“I had the privilege of working with [Republicans] on a number of issues where I found him to be a man of his word. Everybody did. Everybody did,” Pelosi said, using Dole’s example to wrap up remarks about the importance in Congress of duty, civility, integrity and respect.
Pelosi said Dole invited her to speak at his 90th birthday ceremony, which was held in Statuary Hall. She told him this summer that she was preparing for his 100th birthday celebration.
“I didn’t know, sadly, that as speaker I’d be speaking at his lying-in-state in the Capitol,” Pelosi said. “But when he comes there, he’ll bring additional luster to the Capitol as he has brought luster to everything he has done in the Congress.”
Dole’s casket is scheduled to arrive at the Capitol on Thursday morning, and a congressional tribute ceremony will be held. Biden is expected to deliver remarks at 10 a.m., and Dole will lie in state. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, there will be no public viewing.
In a statement Sunday, former president George W. Bush said he would always remember Dole standing from his wheelchair, with the help of an aide, to give a final salute to Bush’s late father, former president George H.W. Bush, when he was lying in state at the Capitol in 2018.
“Our entire family benefited from that friendship including my father … and now we Bushes salute Bob and give thanks for his life of principled service,” Bush said.
A formal departure ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Friday. A live-streamed memorial service for Dole will be held at Washington National Cathedral later Friday morning, with tributes from Biden, former senators Pat Roberts and Tom Daschle, and Dole’s daughter, Robin Dole. The service will also be live-streamed on large screens at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall.
At 1:15 p.m. Friday, Dole’s motorcade will pause at the memorial for a ceremony paying tribute to his life and military service. Expected to deliver remarks are Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; actor Tom Hanks; and “Today” show co-host Savannah Guthrie.
Despite being on opposite sides of the aisle, Biden and Dole shared a close friendship for almost half a century. Biden, who represented Delaware in the Senate from 1973 to 2009, recalled Sunday that Dole never hesitated to work with him or other Democrats “when it mattered most,” although they often disagreed.
Biden praised Dole’s role in bipartisan efforts, such as providing school meals and food for nursing mothers and young children, saying the work, for Dole, was “written on his heart.”
“He and Ted Kennedy came together to turn Bob’s lifelong cause into the Americans With Disabilities Act — granting tens of millions of Americans lives of greater dignity,” Biden said in a statement. “On the Social Security Commission, he led a bipartisan effort with Pat Moynihan to ensure that every American could grow old with their basic dignity intact. When he managed the bill to create a federal holiday in the name of Martin Luther King, Jr. — a bill that many in his own caucus opposed — I will never forget what he said to our colleagues: ‘No first-class democracy can treat people like second-class citizens.’ ”