Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings died in the early hours of Thursday morning due to unspecified health complications, his office announced. He was 68.
Cummings, who represented part of Baltimore, is a veteran of the legislative chamber having served since 1996.
A passionate leader, Cummings fought tirelessly for civil rights and “for the poor in his black-majority district,” the Associated Press reports.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) October 17, 2019
ABC News reports:
His office announced that he passed away at approximately 2:45 a.m. Thursday at Johns Hopkins Hospital due to complications concerning longstanding health challenges.
He had an unspecified medical procedure on Sept. 19, causing him to miss one of his committee’s hearings. His office said at the end of September that they anticipated Cummings would be back at work when Congress returned to session.
Here’s more on Cummings, from the Associated Press:
Cummings’ long career spanned decades in Maryland politics. He rose through the ranks of the Maryland House of Delegates before winning his congressional seat in a special election in 1996 to replace former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who left the seat to lead the NAACP.
Cummings was an early supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential bid in 2008. By 2016, Cummings was the senior Democrat on the House Benghazi Committee, which he said was “nothing more than a taxpayer-funded effort to bring harm to Hillary Clinton’s campaign” for president.
Throughout his career, Cummings used his fiery voice to highlight the struggles and needs of inner-city residents. He was a firm believer in some much-debated approaches to help the poor and addicted, such as needle exchange programs as a way to reduce the spread of AIDS.
A key figure in the Trump impeachment inquiry , Cummings had been hoping to return to Congress after a medical procedure he said would only keep him away for a week. His statement then didn’t detail the procedure. He had previously been treated for heart and knee issues.
Dozens of people responded to the death online where they expressed their condolences to the Cummings family or memories they had in working alongside Cummings.
President Trump shared his condolences and ordered flags in Washington D.C. and around the country to be lowered to half-staff.
“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,” Trump tweeted. “His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace!”
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
Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, who serves as a member of Congress, tweeted: “Very sad news this morning.”
“My heart goes out to the Cummings family during this difficult time,” she added. “Elijah Cummings dedicated his life to service and will truly be missed.”
Very sad news this morning. My heart goes out to the Cummings family during this difficult time. Elijah Cummings dedicated his life to service and will truly be missed. https://t.co/J4ZOZ8f2lu
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) October 17, 2019
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that Cummings served as the Democratic “North Star.”
“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,” the Democrat continued.
In a tweet, Republican Whip Steve Scalise said he was “very sad to learn that my colleague Rep. Elijah Cummings has passed away.”
“He leaves a legacy as a determined public servant and strong fighter for civil rights,” he also said, noting he and his wife “are sending our prayers to his wife Maya and his three kids as they mourn this deep loss.”
Very sad to learn that my colleague Rep. Elijah Cummings has passed away.
He leaves a legacy as a determined public servant and strong fighter for civil rights.
Jennifer and I are sending our prayers to his wife Maya and his three kids as they mourn this deep loss.
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) October 17, 2019
Republican Congressman Thomas Massie described Cummings as “an honorable man who came from humble beginnings and earned respect from both sides of the aisle.”
“We will miss him in Congress. May he Rest In Peace,” he continued.
Chairman Cummings was an honorable man who came from humble beginnings and earned respect from both sides of the aisle. We will miss him in Congress. May he Rest In Peace. https://t.co/XRVhEfBHo5
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) October 17, 2019
Other congressional members tweeted:
I’m saddened to hear the news this morning of Rep. Cummings. His love of country and dedication to public service were admirable, and will not be forgotten. I join my colleagues in grieving this loss, and I am praying for his family.
— Congressman Troy Balderson (@RepBalderson) October 17, 2019
Today the City of Baltimore & our United States Congress mourns the loss of a friend & dedicated public servant. The son of a sharecropper, @RepCummings rose to be one of the most respected Members of Congress on either side of the aisle. He'll be missed in the halls of Congress.
— Frank Lucas (@RepFrankLucas) October 17, 2019
My thoughts are with the loved ones of Rep. Elijah Cummings and the Baltimore community today. He was a shining example of how to be a fighter for his constituents. It was an honor to know him and I will cherish that I had the honor of calling him my friend. He will be missed.
— Rep. Will Hurd (@HurdOnTheHill) October 17, 2019
The news that our friend and colleague Elijah Cummings has passed away marks a sad day for the U.S. Congress, the people of Baltimore, and the entire nation.
He was a friend to all and sought to bridge divides, not widen them. Our prayers are with his loved ones.
— Rep. Liz Cheney (@RepLizCheney) October 17, 2019
Sad news today on Capitol Hill this morning. Thank you @RepCummings for your many years of dedicated service, not only to the people of Baltimore but to our country. Our prayers are with his family at this time.
God speed, Chairman Cummings.
— Rep. Ralph Norman (@RepRalphNorman) October 17, 2019
I had the opportunity to work with Elijah Cummings on the House Oversight Committee. His passion and commitment was unquestioned. Cummings was my friend, always treating me with professionalism and class. I wish Maya and the rest of the Cummings family strength during this time.
— Rep. Mark Walker (@RepMarkWalker) October 17, 2019
A devastating loss for our country.
Chairman Cummings was a giant: a universally respected leader who brought profound insight, commitment, and moral fortitude to Congress.
His guidance and vision was an enormous gift. I will forever cherish his example. May he rest in power. https://t.co/D0RsKsM5fh
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) 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
It was an honor to serve the nation alongside Congressman Elijah Cummings, may he rest easy. 🇺🇸. https://t.co/ij5H5JNCft
— Scott Taylor (@Scotttaylorva) October 17, 2019
Terribly sad news: Rep. Elijah Cummings has died.
HIs office says: "At approximately 2:45 A.M. on Thursday October 17, 2019, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (MD-07) passed away at Johns Hopkins Hospital due to complications concerning longstanding health challenges."
— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) October 17, 2019
What I’ll always remember about Elijah Cummings is that he took no BS from anyone. He would routinely spend several minutes fielding questions from us in the speaker’s lobby or elsewhere, sometimes combatively, but he would always end with some version of: “I appreciate you all.”
— Andrew Desiderio (@AndrewDesiderio) October 17, 2019
Note: The author of this article has included commentary that expresses an opinion and analysis of the facts.
Son of two factory workers with seven children; helped integrate a swimming pool while being attacked with bottles and rocks at age 11; championed first-in-nation tobacco-ad ban in inner-city Baltimore; was rare lawmaker to oppose sending "our young people off to war" in Iraq https://t.co/EYZWbce5Lw
— Drew Harwell (@drewharwell) October 17, 2019