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Rep. Donald Payne might have forgotten the camera was on when he stood up during a U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee hearing. (Twitter/NJ Globe)

Payne attends congressional hearing in his underwear, prompting criticism from GOP

Newark congressman attended Homeland Security Committee hearing from his bedroom, and apparently never got dressed

By David Wildstein, June 18 2021 10:21 am

Wearing a skimpy Captain America tee shirt and boxer shorts – and sitting next to his unmade bed – Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-Newark) attended an early morning virtual hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee on Thursday.

During the hearing, a hapless Payne stands up, exposing his belly, and lingers in front of his camera before walking away from the Zoom-based hearing.

That left Rep. Kat Cammack, a 33-year-old freshman Florida congresswoman, visibly shocked as she watched her New Jersey colleague.  Another GOP congresswoman, Beth Van Duyne (R-Texas) released the video on Twitter.

“Another reason Democrats should get off Zoom and back to work,” Van Duyne wrote.

Payne’s behavior prompted a scolding from Rep. Brian Mast (R-Florida).

“If taxpayers are paying you $174,000 per year, getting out of bed and putting some clothes on for work seems like it should be a minimum requirement,” he said.

In a since-deleted tweet, Sam Morgante, an aide to Payne, shot back at Van Duyne for making fun of his weight – something she did not do.

“Hey Congresswoman, Rep. Payne, Jr.’s Legislative Director here. It’s no secret that as a diabetic the Congressman has his weight struggles. But we try to stick to policy here in Congress,” Morgante wrote.

Payne did not answer his cell phone at 10:04 AM and he has not yet set up his voice mail.

The hearing appeared to be one that reviewed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s budget request for 2022.  Payne looked to have put on a shirt and tie before he returned to ask his question of U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security  Alejandro Mayorkas.

Elected to Congress in 2012 following the death of his father, Rep. Donald M. Payne (D-Newark), he represents New Jersey’s 10th district – one of the most Democratic in the nation.  Joe Biden carried the 10th by an 83%-16% margin in 2020.  Just 16 districts in the U.S. gave Biden a higher percentage.

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