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MP Alcee Hastings dies, lowering the Democratic Home majority to only 7

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., Listens as students share their experiences with gun violence during the Gun Violence Prevention Panel on Wednesday afternoon May 23, 2018.

Sarah Silbiger | CQ Appeal, Inc. | Getty Images

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., Died Tuesday after fighting pancreatic cancer for more than two years, NBC News confirmed.

Hastings, who served in the House of Representatives for nearly three decades, was 84 years old. During his career, he has held several important committee and management positions, most recently as vice chairman of the regular committee. He had also been Florida’s first black federal judge to be appointed to the bank by President Jimmy Carter in 1979.

“As a lawyer, civil rights activist and judge, and throughout his nearly thirty years in office in Congress, he fought tirelessly to create ways to uplift working families, color communities, children and immigrants,” House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi wrote in a statement.

Democrats now have a tighter advantage in the House of Representatives (218-211), which gives the party a lower margin of error in passing laws. Six seats are vacant, four of which were previously occupied by Democrats and two by Republicans.

Three of the four seats in the Democratic House were vacated by appointments in President Joe Biden’s cabinet. Deb Haaland of New Mexico has been named Secretary of the Home Office. Marcia Fudge of Ohio has been named director of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Cedric Richmond of Louisiana has been named senior adviser to the President and director of the White House Public Relations Office.

One of the two free GOP seats is no longer available. Julia Letlow of Louisiana was elected in late March but has yet to be sworn in. Julia will replace her late husband Luke Letlow, who was elected to the seat but died before being sworn in due to Covid-19 complications.

When Hastings was a federal judge in 1983, he was acquitted in a criminal court for conspiring to seek a bribe in exchange for leniency on conviction.

Alcee Hastings testified on his 1989 impeachment trial.

Michael Jenkins | CQ Appeal, Inc. | Getty Images

Nonetheless, the House indicted Hastings in 1988 on charges that he became engaged to himself during the criminal proceedings. The Senate voted to convict and remove him from the bank, but did not vote to exclude him from serving in his future office.

Hastings appealed the impeachment conviction in 1992. A federal judge overturned the conviction on the grounds that a 12-person Senate committee had carried out the impeachment process instead of the entire Senate. This was the first time a Senate conviction has been overturned by a federal judge.

The next year the US Supreme Court ruled that federal courts had no power to review impeachment proceedings in the Senate. Hastings’ legislative career, which began when he was elected in 1992 and lasted until his death, was unaffected by the decision.

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