GOP Representative Walter Jones of North Carolina died on Sunday at age 76, a statement on the congressman’s website said.
“After faithfully representing the people of Eastern North Carolina in Congress and the state legislature for over 34 years, Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) passed away this afternoon in Greenville, North Carolina. He was 76,” the statement reads.
The representative died on his 76th birthday, various news sites reported, shortly after being placed in hospice as a result of a broken hip. In the past few months, his health had deteriorated and he was granted leave of absence from Congress late last year.
Jones was an outspoken politician and one of the first lawmakers to reverse direction on the war in Iraq. He even introduced a bill that would have required President George W. Bush’s administration to begin withdrawing troops in 2006 because the reason given for invading Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, had proven false.
“If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have supported the resolution” to go to war, Jones said in 2005. He personally wrote letters to thousands of families of dead troops, saying it was his “sacred responsibility… to communicate my condolences to a family.”
The statement issued by his office added that Jones “was a champion for our men and women in uniform and their families, always mindful of their service and sacrifice.”
Jones had been serving in Congress for over 23 years and this was his last term. Democratic Governor Roy Cooper has yet to hold a special election to decide who will complete Jones’ two-year term.
The lawmaker also advocated for campaign finance reform and controlling the national debt and was known for frequently opposing his party’s views and policies. For example, he voted against the tax overhaul promoted by President Donald Trump and the plan to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act, ABC News informs.
“It’s absolutely about principle,” he said in a 2018 interview regarding his willingness to openly oppose Republican leaders. “When I leave Congress, I would rather have one thing said about me: ‘I will never question Walter Jones’ integrity.”