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Walter B. Jones, maverick GOP congressman, dead at 76

Rep. Walter B. Jones in 2017

A statement from Jones' office said he passed away Sunday afternoon in Greenville.

U.S. Congressman Walter Jones, a Republican from North Carolina who served in the House of Representatives for more than two decades, died on Sunday, his office said.

Jones had suffered a broken hip at his home on January 14 and underwent surgery at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville the following day.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

Jones initially supported the Iraq War, even gaining distinction for renaming French fries as "freedom fries" in Capitol Hill cafeterias after France refused to back the invasion. He, however, regretted it later and not only wrote to the families of the US service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan but also joined with anti-war opponents in trying to bring troops home.

"When I went to the floor of the House to give the president the authority to go into Iraq, I did not feel that the briefing that I had attended had convinced me that there were weapons of mass destruction, and yet I was not strong enough to vote my conscience", he told in 2009.

The reversal angered many of his Republican colleagues. One of Rep. Jones last acts as a congressman before he died was to reaffirm his commitment to pro-life causes.

Cooper has not yet set the dates for those elections, which must include at least 45 days for absentee voting, according to federal law under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

In a 2013 interview with NC Policy Watch, Jones discussed the debt ceiling, gun control, immigration, and the damaging influence of Citizens United. "Some may not have agreed with him, but all recognised that he did what he thought was right".

"I am deeply saddened by the passing of a long time leader, proud North Carolinian, a devoted family man of deep faith, and my friend of over forty years- Congressman Walter B. Jones, Jr", North Carolina Democrat Rep. G.K. Butterfield tweeted.

During his re-election campaign, Jones announced that he would not run for another term in Congress in 2020.

"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".

Joe Anne Jones and Walter Jones lived in his hometown of Farmville, North Carolina.

A second was his rejection of the partisan tribalism that pervades Congress and American politics. He served in the North Carolina National Guard and helped lead his family business before running for office.

In a statement, Cooper on Sunday called Jones a longtime friend and "public servant who was true to his convictions and who will be missed".