Reps. Carl Levin and Schakowsky cried as they exited an emotional memorial service today for New Jersey Rep. Don Payne. Payne died on March 6 of cancer. The memorial service was held in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. Unlike the 4 hour funeral held for Payne in Newark, NJ on March 14, the memorial service was relatively short but it packed an emotional punch in part because Payne served for so long and was seen on the House floor and in Committee by colleagues only a few weeks before his death. Several speakers including Vice President Biden and Emanuel Cleaver noted that Payne’s personality and work style (quiet, dignified and old school) will be sorely missed in Washington DC. Rep. Cleaver specifically noted a political age where saying caustic things is rewarded more than quiet work that gets results. Many in the audience nodded in agreement.
Payne’s son, Don Payne, Jr., who is running for his father’s seat, said that when his father died last month he was “in a good place” but he remarked that since then he has become more emotional regarding his father’s death. Payne’s son, brother and grandson spoke at the memorial. Many other Payne’s family attended.
Vice President Biden, Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and CBC Chair Emanuel Cleaver spoke at the memorial. Even though he did not speak, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sat in the audience with many other members and congressional staff. CBC Reps. Waters, West, Clyburn, Watt, Clay, Bishop, Hank Johnson, Green, Moore, Christensen, Cleaver, Conyers, Carson, Meeks, Butterfield, Wilson, Hansen Clarke, Brown, Bass, Lee, Jackson Lee, Fudge, Moore and Rush attended. Boehner and Pelosi gave Payne’s family a flag flown over the Capitol on the day of his death and a copy of a resolution in honor of his service in Congress.