U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr., a six-term Democratic congressman from New Jersey, has died from “heart problems,” Fox News confirmed Wednesday.

Payne was 65 and had been suffering from health problems for years. His father, the late Rep. Donald Payne Sr., D-N,J., also died in office in 2012.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s office said he and his wife are “deeply saddened by the tragic passing of our friend, and a steadfast champion for the people of New Jersey, Congressman Donald Payne, Jr.” 

“With his signature bowtie, big heart, and tenacious spirit, Donald embodied the very best of public service,” Murphy said in a statement. “As a former union worker and toll collector, he deeply understood the struggles our working families face, and he fought valiantly to serve their needs, every single day. That purpose was the light that guided him through his early years as Newark City Council President and during his tenure on the Essex County Board of Commissioners. And it guided him still through his more than a decade of service in Congress.”

Murphy said it was a “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.” 


Payne before House Homeland Committee

Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J., listens during the House Homeland Security Committee hearing on “Havoc in the Heartland: How Secretary Mayorkas’ Failed Leadership Has Impacted the States” on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024.  (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“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,” the governor added. “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.”

Payne in front of Capitol

Rep Donald Payne, Jr., D-N.J., Co-Chair of the Colorectal Cancer Caucus, speaks at the Fight Colorectal Cancer “United in Blue” flag installation on the National Mall to spotlight the rise in young adult Colorectal cancer cases on March 12, 2024.  (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fight Colorectal Cancer)

According to the New Jersey Globe, Payne had a heart attack on April 6 and had since been hospitalized on a ventilator.

In the current Congress, he sat on the House Homeland Security and Transportation & Infrastructure committees. 

He was also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chaired the Congressional Men’s Health, Congressional Peripheral Artery Disease and Congressional Colorectal Cancer caucuses.

Donald Payne while Pelosi was speaker

Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J., speaks during a news conference on the INVEST in America Act at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, June 30, 2021.  (Elizabeth Frantz/Bloomberg via Getty Images)


The GOP hangs onto a slim majority in the House. Rep. Mike Gallagher. R-Wisc., was supposed to resign last week. But he has not. The House currently has 218 Republicans, 212 Democrats, and five vacancies: Payne died. Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., along with former Reps. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., and Ken Buck, R-Colo., resigned.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.

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