Democrat US House Rep. Donald Payne Dies at 65

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy confirmed the development on April 24.
Democrat US House Rep. Donald Payne Dies at 65
Rep Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.) is seen at an event in Washington on March 12, 2024. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fight Colorectal Cancer)
Jack Phillips

Six-term Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.) died at age 65, New Jersey’s governor confirmed on April 24.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, confirmed Mr. Payne’s death in a statement, coming two weeks after the congressman suffered a cardiac incident.

“Tammy and I are deeply saddened by the tragic passing of our friend, and a steadfast champion for the people of New Jersey, Congressman Donald Payne Jr.,” the governor wrote.

No cause of death was given. Mr. Payne’s office in early April stated that he had suffered a “cardiac episode” related to complications from diabetes and had been in the hospital since then, according to a statement issued at the time.

“It was my great honor to work side-by-side with Donald to build a stronger and fairer New Jersey, and we will hold his memory close to our hearts as we build upon the Payne family’s deep legacy of service in advocating for the communities they served so dearly,” Mr. Murphy said in his statement.

“Donald’s love will live on in the homes of his neighbors in Newark, who now have access to safe drinking water, and in the good-paying jobs he helped create for his brothers and sisters in labor. And it will live on in his wife Beatrice, and their three children, Donald III, Jack, and Yvonne, who were the pride of his life. Our heartfelt prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”

Mr. Payne had served in the House of Representatives since 2013, representing the state’s 10th Congressional District, which covers portions of Essex, Hudson, and Union counties in North Jersey. He was on the House Committee on Homeland Security and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and was also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

His office stated last week that Mr. Payne was taken to a local hospital for treatment and, at the time, stated that he “is recovering ... as doctors conduct routine exams to monitor and observe his improvement” and that “the Congressman’s prognosis is good and he is expected to make a full recovery.”

Local media reports, citing anonymous sources, had claimed that Mr. Payne had suffered a heart attack and had since been on a ventilator in the hospital. His office did not comment on those reports.

“Deeply saddened by the passing of Congressman Donald Payne Jr., a good friend, highly effective public servant and compassionate leader. My prayers and support are with the Payne family and his loved ones during this difficult time. May he forever Rest in Peace,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) wrote on social media on April 24.
Rep. Josh Brecheen (R-Okla.) wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Very sad to hear the news about our colleague on the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Donald Payne, who tragically passed away today. My thoughts are with his family during this very difficult time.”
It was reported that Mr. Payne was expected to face no opposition in the Democrat primary for his House seat, and his name already appears on the ballots for the June primary election. Mr. Murphy may have to call a special election for the now-open seat, or county committee members could pick his replacement, according to the New Jersey Globe newspaper.

Mr. Payne’s death brings the total number of members in the lower congressional chamber to 430 members; four other House representatives resigned in the middle of the current session.

The Republican Party’s thin majority shrunk after former Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) left in late March, and former Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) left on April 20. Currently, there are 218 Republicans and 212 Democrats in the U.S. House.

Mr. Payne is survived by his wife, Beatrice, and their adult children: Donald III, Jack, and Yvonne.

Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X: