Donald M. Payne, a native of Newark, New Jersey, was elected to represent the 10th Congressional District of New Jersey in 1988 as New Jersey's first African American Congressman by an overwhelming majority and has been returned by a wide margin of the vote in each subsequent election.
In 2004, he won election to his ninth term to represent the 10th District in the 109th Congress. Congressman Payne was chosen by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to serve on the powerful Democratic Steering Committee, whose membership determines each individual committee assignment for Democratic members and plays an active role in shaping the legislative agenda. In 2003, President Bush appointed Payne as one of two members of Congress to serve as a Congressional delegate to the United Nations.
In this role, he met with the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and regularly attended sessions of the U.N. General Assembly and other high level meetings.
Congressman Payne is a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where he serves on the Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations and the Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness.
He also serves on the International Relations Committee and its Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere and Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Relations, where he holds the position of Ranking Member. A past Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, he is a member of the Democratic Whip Organization and has served as a member of the House Democratic Leadership Advisory Group. As a leading advocate of education, he has been instrumental in the passage of key legislation, including the Goals 2000 initiative to improve elementary and secondary schools; the School-to-Work Opportunities Act; the National Service Act, establishment of the National Literacy Institute, and funding for Head Start, Pell Grants and student loans.
On the international front, Congressman Payne has been at the forefront of efforts to restore democracy and human rights in nations throughout the globe, including South Africa, Namibia, Haiti, Zaire, Nigeria, China, Eastern Europe and Northern Ireland. He was one of five members of Congress chosen to accompany President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton on their historic six-nation tour of Africa. Congressman Payne gained national recognition when he was selected to manage the debate on the floor of the House of Representatives in opposition to the use of force in Iraq before fully exploring a diplomatic solution. In the 108th Congress, he was successful in wining passage of a resolution declaring genocide in Darfur, Sudan. He is leading the national Divest Sudan Campaign to divest state-administered pension funds of companies doing business with Sudan.