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Aides Push Congressman’s Legislation Following His AIDS-Linked Death

May 28, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Aides to Rep. Stewart B. McKinney, the first member of Congress known to have contracted acquired immune deficiency syndrome, say they will try to enlist colleagues of the late Connecticut Republican to push through legislation he advocated.

The staff will concentrate on legislation that ″Stewart had thought was truly on its way,″ McKinney spokeswoman Diane Brockett said Wednesday.

The measures include funding for the University of Bridgeport and an amendment to immigration law. She said aides have not approached any members yet to take up the proposals on McKinney’s behalf.

″The staff really hates to see (the proposals) die,″ she said, describing it as a ″a good last effort.″

McKinney’s aides can stay until a new member is elected in a special election set for Aug. 18, but they will be moved to another office next Friday, Brockett said.

Rep. Gerry E. Studds, a leading advocate of AIDS research and education, is moving into McKinney’s office in the Cannon House Office Building, according to Studds aide Steven C. Schwadron.

Studds, an eight-term congressman who is the lone avowed homosexual serving in Congress, wanted McKinney’s office because it is larger, Schwadron said. He said Studds, who is in the Longworth House Office Building, had the most seniority of the members who requested the office.

Meanwhile, the five remaining House members from Connecticut sent a letter to their congressional colleagues this week asking them to join in a remembrance of the nine-term congressman, who died May 7.

″Stewart made many good friends among us. He worked long and hard for the good of the nation’s less advantaged and the homeless,″ the lawmakers wrote in a letter distributed by Rep. Sam Gejdenson, a Democrat who became dean of the state’s House delegation with McKinney’s death.

About 90 members spoke on the House floor in a spontaneous outpouring following the announcement of McKinney’s death. Wednesday’s event will be a more formal remembrance, with members delivering brief speeches in McKinney’s memory.

Gejdenson said members of the late congressman’s family are expected to be in the gallery.

Brockett said McKinney’s friends and family are planning an AIDS fund- raiser in his memory.

″A lot of people have asked us to do something, and the family felt that’s what they wanted to do,″ she said.

McKinney’s doctor has said he believes McKinney, who was 56 when he died, contracted AIDS from blood transfusions during heart-bypass surgery in 1979.

But other experts have said it is unlikely he contracted the deadly disease through the transfusion. The Washington Post has quoted unidentified sources as saying he had homosexual relations.

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