Elijah Cummings, Respected Maryland Rep. and House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman, Dies at 68

Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland, died at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore on Thursday morning from “complications concerning longstanding health issues,” according to a statement from spokeswoman Trudy Perkins. He was 68.

Cummings was an esteemed House veteran with 23 years of service and also served as the House Committee on Oversight and Reform chairman. He was an instrumental player in President Trump’s impeachment inquiry and had been targeted by the president for being an ardent critic of his administration and policies.

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According to the Baltimore Sun, Cummings was the son of sharecroppers who moved to Baltimore in the late 1940s. The humble public servant was a Phi Beta Kappa honoree while he attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. He graduated with a degree in political science. Cummings went on to attend the University of Maryland School of Law and passed the bar in 1976.

He was also a former member of the Congressional Black Caucus and was a dedicated civil rights advocate who fought with tenacity and integrity.

Because of his illness, Cummings had not actively attended roll call on Capitol Hill since mid-September. Though he was not physically present, he remained active on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and even sent subpoenas to the White House in October regarding the impeachment inquiry.

“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 out problem,” Maryland Democratic Party Chair and his widow, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, said in a statement.

“In the House, Elijah was our 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,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a heartfelt statement.

“In the Congress, we will miss his wisdom, his warm friendship and his great humanity. In Baltimore, we will miss our champion,” she said.

As American flags flew at half-staff to honor Cummings, the shock of his death and the loss of the servant leader could be felt across social media.