Tribute to Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ)

March 6, 2012 By Mark Green

I was saddened to learn my good friend, Representative Donald Payne (D-NJ), passed away today after a months-long battle with cancer.  Rep. Payne was a champion of global health and human rights – especially in Africa.  As co-founder of the Malaria Caucus, he understood that working to eradicate disease was not just a health issue, but one that affects our own security and economic prosperity.  The funding he secured to fight HIV/AIDS and Malaria saved countless lives in many nations and gave hope and opportunity where there was only despair.

He was also one of the first Members of Congress to call attention to the genocide in Darfur and played an important role in the creation of South Sudan.  He embodied America’s best values as he worked tirelessly on behalf of the most vulnerable, even risking his life to go to Mogadishu in 2009 where Al Shabaab fired mortars at the airport as his plane was taking off.

My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time.  I am fortunate to have had the honor of serving with Rep. Payne, and while we served across the aisle from one another, we found common ground in our shared passion for Africa and I admired him a great deal.  He will be sorely missed, but always remembered as an American patriot.