- Democratic Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
- Son of the late Congressman Donald Payne Sr.
- Member of the Congressional Black Caucus
- Views America as a nation awash in racism
- Supports comprehensive immigration reform
- Believes that the greenhouse gas emissions asssociated with human industrial activity are responsible for potentially catastrophic “climate change”
Donald Payne Jr. was born in Newark, New Jersey on December 17, 1958. After studying graphic arts at Kean University, he worked as director of student transportation at the Essex County (New Jersey) Educational Services Commission, and was employed for some time by the New Jersey Highway Authority. Payne was also a member of Essex County’s Board of Chosen Freeholders from 2005-12, an at-large representative of the Newark City Council from 2006-12, and the president of Newark’s Municipal Council from 2010-12. On November 6, 2012, he won a special election, as a Democrat, to fill the vacant U.S. House seat (representing New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District) that his late father, Donald Payne Sr., had occupied for the previous 23 years. Upon joing Congress, the younger Payne also became a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Payne is a staunch advocate of comprehensive immigration reform that would enable the “11 million undocumented workers” who “live in our communities and … go to our schools and … work among us every day,” to finally “come out of the shadows without the specter of deportation hanging over their heads.” In particular, the congressman contends that the U.S. has a “moral obligation” to “fix our broken [immigration] system” on behalf of the many “children who were brought here [illegally] through no fault of their own and think of themselves as Americans.” Moreover, Payne laments that “deportations and seizures” of illegals have become too commonplace in recent years; he cautions against using the “issue of border security” as “a fear tactic to prevent progress” in granting illegal immigrants the rights they deserve; and he maintains that newcomers from everywhere on earth “are all in search of the same thing—[the] pursuit of the American Dream.”
On the premise that “every American should have access to quality, affordable health care,” Payne “strongly support[s]” the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). In 2013 he voted against a bill requiring an income-verification system to be put in place before any additional taxpayer funds could be given to people receiving (possibly unmerited) healthcare subsidies under Obamacare.
Accepting the notion that the greenhouse gas emissions asssociated with human industrial activity are responsible for potentially catastrophic “climate change,” Payne states that “green jobs and training must be a priority for the future of New Jersey.” Toward that end, he has proposed a Green Jobs Act designed to increase access to loans for “green small businesses” that “retrofit buildings, install and replace solar panels, regulate waste, [and] clean up contamination.”
In November 2014, Payne was outraged by a Ferguson, Missouri grand jury’s decision not to prosecute a local white police officer who, some three months earlier, had shot and killed an 18-year-old black male named Michael Brown in an altercation that subsequently set off a massive national movement protesting an alleged epidemic of police brutality against African Americans. Payne said he was “deeply disappointed in the grand jury’s decision,” which he viewed as “a tremendous miscarriage of justice that reminds everyone, of every age and race, that we still have incredible hatred and prejudice to overcome in our nation.”
In early 2015, Payne objected strenuously when Republican House Speaker John Boehner—without first asking President Obama for his approval—invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress about the gravity of the growing Iranian nuclear threat and his “profound disagreement” with the negotiated deal that the Obama Administration was pursuing with Iran. Charging that “Speaker Boehner’s unilateral invitation to Prime Minister Netanyahu was a breach of protocol” that “undermine[d]” U.S.-Israeli relations by “bringing partisan politics into the mix,” Payne decided to boycott Netanyahu’s speech.
During his tenure in Congress, Payne has voted:
- against two separate bills designed to prohibit the use of taxpayer funds for abortion services, except in cases of rape or incest (2014 & 2015);
- in favor of establishing a framework for the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba (2013);
- against a bill authorizing states to require welfare-program beneficiaries to work, or at least to actively seek employment (2013);
- against two separate bills intended to prevent the funding and implementation of President Obama’s recently-issued executive orders conferring administrative amnesty to millions of illegal aliens (2013 & 2014);
- against a bill prohibiting the President from unilaterally exempting, without Congressional approval, categories of illegal immigrants from deportation proceedings (2014); and
- against a bill requiring the termination of employment for seriously tax-delinquent federal workers (2013).
For an overview of Payne’s voting record on an array of additional key issues during his years in Congress, click here.