Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings Dies At 68; Lawmakers Pay Tribute
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), the House Oversight Committee chairman, died at Johns Hopkins Hospital early Thursday due to complications from ongoing health issues, his office said. He was 68.
Cummings drew most attention in recent months for his continued efforts alongside other House Democratic leaders like Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California) and Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-New York) to investigate President Donald Trump, his associates and his presidency. Cummings, who led a district primarily comprised of Baltimore, also became the subject of Trump’s ire and mockery after the African-American congressman’s home was robbed this summer. Around the same time, the president also launched a racist Twitter rant against Baltimore — a predominantly black city — by calling it “infested” with rats and calling for Cummings to fix the issues in the city.
The congressman noted in an interview after Trump’s comments against him and his city that for the first time in his 37 years of public service, his constituents told him they were afraid of the president. The Baltimore Sun also wrote a scathing op-ed against Trump after he insulted the city.
Cummings, who began serving as the U.S Representative for Maryland’s seventh district in 1996, was a major figure in the House Democratic Caucus. Aside from being one of several House Democrats leading the ongoing impeachment inquiry into Trump over his dealings with Ukraine, Cummings also spearheaded a probe into the White House’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census and served as the top-ranking member of his party on the Republican-led Benghazi Committee that questioned Hillary Clinton early on in her 2016 presidential campaign about her actions as secretary of State.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-South Carolina) — the highest-ranking black member of Congress and a close friend of Cummings — were among the many lawmakers who paid tribute to the late House Oversight chairman.
“In the House, Elijah was our North Star,” Pelosi said in a statement. “He was a leader of towering character and integrity, whose stirring voice and steadfast values pushed the Congress and country to rise always to a higher purpose.”
“Today we have lost a giant,” said Clyburn. “Elijah Cummings was a public servant to his core.”
“In a time of confrontation and disagreement and anger and, yes, sometimes hate, he was a beacon of civility, of fairness, of justice,” Hoyer added.
Deeply saddened by the passing of Chairman Elijah Cummings.
He spoke truth to power, defended the disenfranchised and represented West Baltimore with strength and dignity.
— Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) October 17, 2019
We lost a giant today. Congressman Elijah Cummings was a fearless leader, a protector of democracy, and a fighter for the people of Maryland. Our world is dimmer without him in it.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) October 17, 2019
Several Republican lawmakers also mourned Cummings’ death. Among them were Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina), whom Cummings succeeded as House Oversight chairman in January, and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-Virginia), the chairman of the chamber’s Freedom Caucus who was close friend of Cummings.
There was no stronger advocate and no better friend than Elijah Cummings. I am heartbroken for his wonderful family and staff—please pray for them.
I will miss him dearly.
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) October 17, 2019
Elijah Cummings was one of the most powerful, beautiful & compelling voices in American politics. The power and the beauty came from his authenticity, his conviction, the sincerity with which he held his beliefs. We rarely agreed on political matters.
— Trey Gowdy (@TGowdySC) October 17, 2019
Trump also offered his condolences to Cummings’ friends and family in a tweet:
My warmest condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings. I got to see first hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader. His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2019