Members of Congress are devastated by the passing of their colleague U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr., D-N.J., who died on Wednesday at the age of 65. Payne’s death comes after he had been hospitalized for several weeks following a cardiac arrest episode earlier this month. 

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said in a statement that the New Jersey lawmaker is leaving “behind a legacy of relentless determination in the face of adversity.”

Jeffries added, “Our nation is forever indebted to Rep. Payne, Jr. for his service and commitment to his community, to the Congress, and to the country.”

In a statement, U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., said Payne will be remembered for “his kindness and generosity.”  

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) chairman added that the six-term congressman “leaves behind a legacy and commitment to service that New Jerseyans and our country will not soon forget.”   

House Democratic Whip, Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., said in a statement obtained by theGrio that Payne was a “valued friend and colleague” and that she was honored to work with him in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Clark added, “His talent for building consensus and his unrivaled fashion sense will be dearly missed by the entire House Democratic Caucus.”

According to Payne’s Congressional office, on April 6, 2024, Payne “experienced a physical accident at home.” Soon after being hospitalized, he faced further complications “due to diabetes and high blood pressure” which led to a heart attack. The medical staff were unable to help improve his medical status, which resulted in his death. 

Payne represented New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District since November 2012. He succeeded his father, former U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Sr., who died in office on March 6, 2012. During Payne Jr.’s time in Congress, he was a member of the CBC and served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure and Homeland Security Committees. 

While on the House Committee on Homeland Security, Payne improved communication between emergency agencies and victims suffering during and after national emergencies. He served on the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials and introduced the INVEST in America Act, which then became the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The law provided $1.2 trillion to support road and rail projects, the rebuilding of highways, and the replacement of lead water pipes across the nation.

In the previous Congress, Payne helped to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. However, both pieces of legislation failed in the U.S. Senate.

CBC Chairman Horsford remembered Payne as an advocate who fought for “racial justice, equal rights for all, reproductive freedom, free college tuition, and public transportation.”

Congresswoman Clark said the congressman followed in his father’s footsteps and worked tirelessly to “bring down the cost of health care, widen the path to prosperity, rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, and honor every child’s right to clean drinking water.”  

U.S. Rep. Shontel Brown, D-Ohio, said she was “saddened” by Payne’s death in a statement and said she believed the U.S. needs “more members of Congress like Donald Payne, Jr. … who understood the meaning of public service.” 

Payne leaves behind his wife, Beatrice, and their three children.

At this time, it is unclear what will happen with Payne’s seat, as he was running unopposed in the June 4 primary election and the filing deadline has passed. Given Payne’s death, there are currently 217 Republicans and 212 Democrats in the House. 


Original story HERE