House members mourn Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J.

Bay Area members of Congress are paying tribute to Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J., who died today after battling colon cancer:

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

Nancy Pelosi“Congressman Donald Payne was a leader of conscience and a public servant of diligence. He was admired by his colleagues; he earned respect around the world for his outspoken advocacy on behalf of human rights and the worth and dignity of every person.

“Congressman Payne spoke out on behalf of suffering people in some of the most difficult situations around the world: from Rwanda to Sudan to the peace process in Northern Ireland. It was a personal privilege to travel with Congressman Payne to Darfur; he was a leader in bringing attention to the genocide there. He was an expert on the political, economic, and security situation throughout the continent of Africa.

“I was proud to recognize Congressman Payne’s global advocacy by recommending that President George W. Bush name him a congressional delegate to the United Nations. His work here at home, especially on behalf of his constituents and America’s middle class families, was unwavering.

“I hope it is a comfort to those who loved Congressman Payne that so many grieve their loss and and are praying for them in this sad time.”

From Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, ranking member on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, of which Payne was also a senior member:

“I am heartbroken to learn of Congressman Payne’s passing. Donald served his constituents and this nation with honor, distinction and a deep sense of justice. He was an uncompromising voice on the committee for the disadvantaged and the powerless. He did his work with humility, and, when he spoke, people listened. He championed human rights and workers’ rights both here and around the world. Working people across the country could always count on Donald to stand up for them when it came to their health, safety and fair treatment on the job. As a former educator, he was a tireless advocate for all children and a strong champion of Head Start, giving countless children a better chance at a brighter future. Donald’s leadership and advocacy will be missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to Donald’s family, staff and constituents.”

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“I am deeply saddened by the passing of my friend and colleague, Congressman Donald Payne, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and to his constituents.

“Don was truly a world renowned leader. I had the privilege to serve under his brilliant leadership as the Senior Democratic member of the House International Relations Subcommittee on Africa. I also had the honor to work very closely with him in the legislative process addressing the global HIV/AIDS pandemic and addressing the genocide in Darfur both through our efforts to obtain an official declaration and through divestment legislation that was signed into law. His dedication to global health issues and Africa saved and improved the lives of many and inspired all of those around him. Today, Congress lost its best teacher on Africa.

“Don was also committed to the underserved in our society, and I benefited greatly from his tremendous wisdom, insight and counsel. As chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Don was a leader on education issues and fiercely dedicated to building stronger communities for our children. I will deeply miss Don, and believe that his legacy will inspire many to speak for the voiceless and stand up for justice across the globe.”

From House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

John Boehner“I was saddened to hear of Congressman Payne’s passing, and extend the prayers and condolences of the whole House to his family and his constituents. I had the privilege to serve with Don on the Education & the Workforce Committee, and admired his commitment to ensuring our children get the best quality education. As a leader on the Foreign Affairs Committee, he brought much-needed attention to public health and human rights issues in Africa and around the globe. Don was widely respected by his colleagues as a dedicated public servant, and will be dearly missed.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.