FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Rep. Alcee Hastings, the fiercely liberal longtime Florida congressman who was dogged throughout his tenure by an impeachment that ended his fast-rising judicial career, died Tuesday. He was 84.
Hastings' death was confirmed by his chief of staff, Lale M. Morrison. Hastings, a Democrat from the Fort Lauderdale area, announced two years ago that he had pancreatic cancer.
Hastings was known as an advocate for minorities, a defender of Israel and a voice for gays, immigrants, women and the elderly. He held senior posts on the House Rules Committee and the Helsinki Commission, which works with other countries on a variety of multinational issues.
President Joe Biden called Hastings “a trailblazing lawyer” whom he admired for his “singular sense of humor, and for always speaking the truth bluntly and without reservation.”
“Alcee was outspoken because he was passionate about helping our nation live up to its full promise for all Americans,” Biden said in his statement.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Hastings' “leadership and friendship will be missed by his many friends in Congress.”
But throughout his career, Hastings' impeachment remained a nagging footnote. It was repeatedly invoked in news accounts and seen as derailing his ambitions for a greater leadership role.
“That seems to be the only thing of significance to people who write,” Hastings told The Associated Press in 2013, predicting that the impeachment would be in the lead paragraph of his obituary.