Shaw helped guide the GOP through the historic Welfare Reform Act of 1996.
He also pushed back on some of the GOP’s proposals in the “Contract With America.” According to a 1995 profile in CQ’s Politics in America, Shaw scoffed at the suggestion that unwed mothers younger than 18 should be denied cash benefits and have their children placed in orphanages. “I would rather rehabilitate human beings,” Shaw said in an interview with CQ. “I think the party that prides itself in family values will not support warehousing kids in orphanages.”
After the 1998 elections, Shaw took on Social Security. Representing a district with a high proportion of residents age 65 or older, he led the effort to eliminate the Social Security earnings penalty on working seniors.
Shaw was operated on for lung cancer in January 2003, but the procedure did not slow him down much, according to CQ’s Politics in America profile of the congressman. He spent his time lobbying to have the government cover a $20 million anthrax cleanup at a Boca Raton tabloid newspaper company that was the target of a 2001 attack.
As elder statesman of the Florida congressional delegation, he also forged a partnership between the state and federal government to restore and protect the Everglades.
Shaw made it through close elections during his 13 terms until he was defeated in 2006 by Democrat Ron Klein.
Among other highlights of his legislative career: the 1982 Missing Children’s Act, the Holocaust Restitution Tax Fairness Act of 2002 and the Congo Basin Forest Partnership Act of 2004.
Shaw will be buried at a family plot in Cuba, Ala. A memorial service will take place in Fort Lauderdale at a later date.