The prominent committee chairman from Baltimore known for his passion for democracy and civil rights Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) died early Thursday morning at the age of 68, his congressional office first announced in a statement.
Cummings passed away at Gilchrist Hospice Care, an affiliate of John Hopkins Hospital at 2:45 a.m. ET due to “complications concerning longstanding health challenges,” his office said in a statement. He did not return to work after undergoing a undisclosed medical procedure, as the Baltimore Sun noted. The Maryland Democratic Party, which his wife Maya Rockeymoore Cummings chairs, confirmed the news in a moving statement on Thursday.
“Congressman Cummings was an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility,” Rockeymoore Cummings said. “He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity and that our nation’s diversity was our promise, not our problem. It’s been an honor to walk by his side on this incredible journey. I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly.”
Cummings was the son of a sharecropper and first joined Congress in 1996. At the time of his death he was the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, one of the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Cummings began his political career in 1982 when he ran for Maryland state delegate and won. He served in the state general assembly for 14 years and was the first black person in state history to be named speaker pro tem.
Known for his impassioned speeches and celebrated record on civil rights, Cummings was beloved by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) ordered the flags at the Capitol to be lowered to half staff in Cummings’ memory on Thursday. When news of his death broke early Thursday, the tributes rolled in across Twitter.
Rest In Peace, Elijah Cummings. His passing would be a huge loss to his family, his district and his country under any circumstances. But this particular moment puts his absence into even sharper relief.
— jelani cobb (@jelani9) October 17, 2019
— Oversight Committee Republicans (@GOPoversight) October 17, 2019
GOP Rep Mark Meadows on Elijah Cummings passing: “I am heartbroken. Truly heartbroken.”
“I have no other words to express the loss.”Meadows and Cummings had a close personal relationship, despite being far apart politically.
— Dana Bash (@DanaBashCNN) October 17, 2019
Elijah Cummings was the heart and soul of our caucus, a dignified leader with a voice that could move mountains.
He was our moral and ethical North Star. Now we will be guided by his powerful memory and incomparable legacy.
Rest In Peace, my friend.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) October 17, 2019
We lost one of our best. A son of sharecroppers, who went on to represent one of our greatest cities; a fighter for justice, who always led with love—Rep. Elijah Cummings was everything right about America. He is already missed, but his legacy will be with us forever.
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) October 17, 2019
Sad to learn of the passing of longtime, passionate public servant Rep. Elijah Cummings. May he Rest In Peace. Lifting up his family, friends and colleagues in prayer.
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) October 17, 2019
Trump tweeted out his “warmest condolences” on Thursday morning, a noticeable shift in tone from weeks back when Trump created yet another news cycle in which he incessantly attacked lawmakers of color.
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