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Florida congressman Alcee Hastings dies at 84 after battling cancer

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Don Johnson
Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., (L) speaks with Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., during a break at a hearing on the impeachment against President Donald Trump on December 17, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. File Photo by Andrew Harnik/UPI/Pool
Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., (L) speaks with Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., during a break at a hearing on the impeachment against President Donald Trump on December 17, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. File Photo by Andrew Harnik/UPI/Pool | License Photo

April 6 (UPI) -- Florida congressman Alcee Hastings, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2018, has died at the age of 84.

Hastings, a Democrat, served in the U.S. House from 1992 until his death on Tuesday. He is the first sitting member of Congress from South Florida to die in office since Rep. Claude Pepper in 1989.

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Hastings, the longest-serving member of Florida's congressional delegation, was a member of the House rules committee.

Before his election to Congress, Hastings was a federal judge appointed by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. In 1981, Hastings was charged with bribery in a federal sting operation and later acquitted.

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"[Hastings] is accused of conspiring to take a $150,000 bribe to reduce the sentence of two racketeers," UPI reported during his trial in 1983.

That same year, he clashed with President Ronald Reagan over a visit to the Miami area and called the president a "deceitful liar."

In 1988, he was impeached by the House and removed from the bench a year later by the Senate, becoming only the sixth federal judge in history to be removed from office.

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Before he became a judge, Hastings was a civil rights attorney and made an unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate in 1970.

In late 2018, Hastings was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. In recent days, he had been in hospice care.

"Alcee was a fighter, and he fought this terrible disease longer than most. He faced it fearlessly, and at times even made fun of it," said Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

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Under Florida law, Gov. Ron DeSantis will call a special election to fill the vacancy. Hastings' district is overwhelmingly Democratic -- and he received 80% of the vote when he was re-elected in November.

"Alcee Hastings fought to make our country a kinder, fairer place, particularly for Black men and women," Rep. David N. Cicilline, D-R.I., said in statement on Tuesday. "His death today is a loss for the people of southeast Florida, who he served for so long."

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Dusty Hill
ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill performs at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla., on December 28, 2007. The rock legend died on July 27 at the age of 72. Photo by Michael Bush/UPI | License Photo

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