WASHINGTON — Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., a former federal judge and civil rights activist in his 15th term in Congress, has died at 84, a senior Democratic aide confirmed to NBC News on Tuesday.
Hastings said in early 2019 that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was undergoing treatment at Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington.
His death means another vacancy in the House, which narrows the Democratic majority and makes it increasingly harder for the party to pass legislation without near total agreement.
Hastings represented Florida’s 20th Congressional District, which covers parts of Broward and Palm Beach Counties. Hastings had been serving as vice chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee and was the most senior member of his state’s congressional delegation. He was recently appointed a senior whip by House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, D-S.C.
Hastings served in the House since 1993, making a comeback after it impeached him in 1988 and the Senate removed him as a federal judge a year later after finding him guilty of perjury and conspiring to solicit a bribe. Hastings became Florida’s first black federal judge in 1979, having been appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Hastings’s death was first reported Tuesday by The Sun Sentinel newspaper.
Rebecca Shabad is a congressional reporter for NBC News, based in Washington.
Alex Moe is a Capitol Hill producer for NBC News covering the House of Representatives.