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Press Release


Brooklyn, NY – Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries issued the following statement upon the news of the death of Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr.:

Today is a difficult day as we mourn the loss of a beloved public servant, colleague and dear friend. Over his six terms in Congress, Representative Donald M. Payne, Jr. was a tremendous advocate for the people of New Jersey’s Tenth Congressional District, following in the footsteps of his father, the first African American Member of Congress from the state.

Rep. Donald Payne, Jr.’s long and valiant career in public service began when he founded the Newark South Ward Junior Democrats and continued at the Municipal Council of Newark and Essex County Board of Freeholders, always fighting for those he was privileged to represent. Don led this fight with vigorous passion and personal conviction, his own courageous battle with Type 1 Diabetes informing much of his life’s work to make our communities safer and healthier. Don Payne Jr. was a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act and an outspoken advocate for men’s health, leading efforts to provide accessible screening and treatment options for cancer patients.

As Chairman of the Railroad Subcommittee for the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Congressman Payne was instrumental in fighting for critical upgrades to New Jersey’s transit system and in crafting the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that has strengthened our nation. A Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Don passed legislation to protect America’s children and to make DHS communication more effective during emergencies.

Don leaves behind a legacy of relentless determination in the face of adversity. Our nation is forever indebted to Rep. Payne, Jr. for his service and commitment to his community, to the Congress and to the country. I am grateful to my classmate and friend for the role he played in my own public service journey, through our conversations on train rides to and from Washington and our close partnership as Members from neighboring delegations. 

I join the entire House Democratic Caucus in expressing our sincere condolences to Don’s wife Beatrice, his children Donald III, Jack and Yvonne and the entire Payne family.