Walter Jones, NC’s 3rd congressional district representative, dies at 76

Rep. Walter Jones died Sunday partway through his 13th term in the House of Representatives. He was 76

ASSOCIATED PRESS Rep. Walter Jones died Sunday partway through his 13th term in the House of Representatives. He was 76

According to a release from his office, Walter Jones died this afternoon in Greenville.

"Congressman Jones was a man of the people", his office said in a statement.

Jones was hospitalized on January 14 when he sustained a broken hip at his home.

This story is breaking and will be updated. He initially supported the war, even coining the terms "freedom fries" and "freedom toast" to protest France's refusal to join the war effort in Iraq.

His ultimate opposition to the Iraq war came with the irony that he instigated a symbolic slap against the French when their country early on opposed USA military action.

"I did not do what I should have done to read and find out whether Bush was telling us the truth about Saddam being responsible for 9/11 and having weapons of mass destruction", Jones told a reporter in 2015.

In a 2013 interview with NC Policy Watch, Jones discussed the debt ceiling, gun control, immigration, and the damaging influence of Citizens United.

His Christian conservatism aligned him with the Republican Party in opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion rights. "He was a champion for our men and women in uniform and their families, always mindful of their service and sacrifice", his office said in a Facebook post Sunday.

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During his re-election campaign, Jones announced that he would not run for another term in Congress in 2020. Two of the vacancies are North Carolina seats - Jones' 3rd district and the 9th Congressional District, where the state board of elections has yet to certify the results of the 2018 contest including Republican Mark Harris, Democrat Dan McCready and Libertarian Jeff Scott.

"He will be long remembered for his tireless advocacy for eastern North Carolina, which he loved dearly, and for always following his convictions, no matter the political cost", added Republican U.S. Sen.

Perhaps the most noteworthy highlight of Jones' congressional tenure was his fight to see the repeal of the Johnson Amendment, a law that denies tax exempt status to any organization - including houses of worship - if they endorses or oppose political candidates.

Back in 2011, Jones was one of 10 members of Congress to file a lawsuit against President Obama in an effort to stop the USA from sending troops to Libya, calling the US bombing an "abuse of power".

He served in the North Carolina state House from 1982 through 1992, where he often clashed with Democratic leaders.

Gov. Roy Cooper mourned Jones' passing in a Sunday evening statement.

"I send my condolences to his wife Joe Anne, his daughter Ashley, and all those who had the honor of knowing and benefitting from the work of Congressman Walter B. Jones, Jr".

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