Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today issued the following statement regarding the death of Rep. Donald Payne:
"I want to express my deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the family of Rep. Donald Payne. Words cannot express how saddened I was to learn of his passing.
"I had the privilege of working with Don for more than a decade. He was a mentor, a colleague and a friend.
"In Congress, we served side by side on the Education and the Workforce Committee and collaborated on an Aspen Institute initiative that looked at higher education access issues for minority students. When I became the nation's secretary of labor, Don provided support, encouragement and astute guidance. I will always value his judgment and insight.
"As the first African-American to represent New Jersey in Congress, Don was a trailblazer. He was a champion for the underserved, a powerful voice for his community and his constituents, and a strong advocate for our most vulnerable. And his compassion, as well as his efforts, stretched across the globe, as he devoted significant time and energy to African relief causes.
"Don's selfless leadership inspired countless other members of Congress, as well as their staffs. I will miss him. I know so many others will too."