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Recognizing Congressman Donald M. Payne

Rep. Frank Pallone

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Mr. Speaker, I rise today to call attention to one of our distinguished colleagues, Representative Donald M. Payne from New Jersey's 10th District. Congressman Payne is this year's recipient of the Justice for Cypress Award presented by the Cypress Federation of America. This award is presented to an individual who has exhibited exemplary leadership and has advocated for the liberation of Cypress from the Turkish occupation forces and the restoration of the human rights of the Cypriot people. I can think of no one more deserved of this award then my friend, Congressman Donald Payne.

Congressman Payne has represented his district in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1988, when he was elected as New Jersey's first African American Congressman. In 2002, he was re-elected to serve an eighth term to represent the people of New Jersey's 10th Congressional District in the 108th Congress.

Congressman Payne is a member of the International Relations Committee and its Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere and Subcommittee on Africa, where he holds the position of ranking member. Through these committee assignments, Congressman Payne has become a key player in the arena of International Relations. He has been one of the leading advocates of the restoration of democracy and human rights in many nations throughout the world. Congressman Payne lead an effort among pharmaceutical companies to donate over $2 million worth of medicine to war-torn Somalia. Similarly, Mr. Payne also introduced the Sudan Peace Act, which facilitated famine relief efforts and a comprehensive solution to the war in Sudan.

In addition, Congressman Payne has proven himself to be an influential member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Congressman Payne is a leading advocate of education and has played an instrumental role in the passage of key legislation aimed at improving elementary and secondary schools.

Congressman Payne has also worked diligently on important issues like healthcare and the environment. Congressman Payne was a major influence in directing attention towards the AIDS epidemic and the rising incidence of tuberculosis in many nations. He has also devoted much time and energy to the elimination of poverty and was a key sponsor of the minimum wage increase and the Family and Medical Leave Act. Furthermore, Congressman Payne's record on environmental conservation issues has been rated one of the best in Congress.

Before being elected to serve in the House of Representatives, Mr. Payne had a distinguished career that included service on the Newark Municipal Council and the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. Mr. Payne was also an executive of the Prudential Insurance Company, Vice President of Urban Data Systems, and an educator in the Newark public school system.

Congressman Payne, a native of New Jersey, graduated from Seton Hall University and pursued graduate studies at Springfield College in Massachusetts. He holds honorary degrees from Chicago State University, Drew University, Essex County College and William Paterson University. Congressman Payne is a widower, father of three and grandfather of four.

Mr. Speaker, Congressman Payne's contributions to his community, our nation and the world have been numerous and successful. He is a man of great character and a true asset to the United States Congress. I ask that my colleagues rise and join me in honoring my dear friend and colleague, the Honorable Donald M. Payne.