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Rep. Donald Payne Jr., 6-term New Jersey Democrat, dies at 65

New Jersey congressman dies at age 65
New Jersey Rep. Donald Payne Jr. dies at age 65 00:54

Washington — Rep. Donald Payne Jr., a Democrat from New Jersey, has died at age 65, after he "experienced a physical accident" at his home earlier this month, his office said Wednesday. 

The April 6 accident required Payne to be hospitalized, and during treatment he experienced "medical complications due to diabetes and high blood pressure that led to subsequent cardiorespiratory arrest."

"Despite the dedicated efforts of the medical staff to treat him and improve his health, they were unable to prevent his passing unfortunately," his office said. 

Following a report from the New Jersey Globe last week that said Payne was unconscious and on a ventilator after a heart attack, the congressman's office said he had suffered "a cardiac episode based on complications from his diabetes" and was in "stable condition." 

Payne's office said he was "a tireless fighter for New Jersey families as well as job creation, economic growth, protections for children, education, and the health and safety of our communities." 

President Biden on Thursday called Payne "an accomplished public servant" and said he "represented the best of Newark."

"Don and I worked together throughout his time in Congress, as he fought to expand access to health care, clean drinking water, and cancer screenings; to prevent gun violence, protect voting rights, and promote equal pay for women," Mr. Biden said, adding, "He lived his whole life on the same street, committed to the city that so many in his family served."

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Payne "embodied the very best of public service," noting his "signature bowtie, big heart and tenacious spirit."

Rep. Donald Payne speaks during a hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building on June 6, 2023, in Washington, D.C.
Rep. Donald Payne speaks during a hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building on June 6, 2023, in Washington, D.C. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat, said they were saddened to learn of Payne's death and sent prayers to his family and friends. 

Jeffries called him a "highly effective public servant and compassionate leader." 

Payne gave his final speech on the House floor on March 22, according to C-SPAN. He praised President Biden's efforts to improve housing in the U.S. 

Payne, who was running for reelection in New Jersey's 10th Congressional District, was first elected to the House in 2012, succeeding his late father, Rep. Donald Payne Sr., who died of colon cancer. Payne was running unopposed in the Democratic primary. 

He is survived by his wife and their three children. 

His death does not significantly alter the balance of power in the House, where Republicans hold a slim majority. Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin was expected to retire after the passage of the foreign aid package, leaving Republicans with 217 seats. Payne's death puts Democrats at 212, but they could regain another seat next week in a special election in New York. Without Gallagher and Payne, Republicans can afford to lose two votes and still retain a majority of 215. 

Nikole Killion contributed reporting. 

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