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House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) speaks at the National Press Club, on August 7, 2019.
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Elijah Cummings, chair of the powerful House Oversight Committee, dies at 68

Cummings was a longtime Congress member from Baltimore.

Elijah Cummings, the chair of the powerful House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and a longtime Democratic member from Baltimore, has died at age 68.

The son of sharecroppers, Cummings rose to become one of the most prominent Democratic members of the House. A former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, he was known for his dedication to civil rights and his dogged tenacity in his role on the House Oversight Committee.

Flags on Capitol Hill will fly at half-staff to honor Cummings, per House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s orders, her spokesperson said.

“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,” Pelosi said in a statement Thursday. “His principled leadership as Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform was the perfect testament to his commitment to restoring honesty and honor to government, and leaves a powerful legacy for years to come.”

Although the oversight committee is one of the panels in the current impeachment probe investigating President Donald Trump and it was active in investigating the Trump administration well before impeachment, Cummings would frequently go out of his way to inform reporters of the committee’s other work, including its focus on combating the opioid crisis.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing where members of Congress testified about their trip to the US-Mexico border on Friday, July 12, 2019.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Cummings died while at Gilchrist Hospice Care — an affiliate of Johns Hopkins Medicine, according to an obituary in the Baltimore Sun, his hometown paper. Cummings’s office recently told the Sun the Congress member had undergone a medical procedure, but the severity of his medical condition was not public knowledge.

According to the Sun, Cummings had not been present on Capitol Hill for a roll call vote since September 11. However, he had been active in the committee’s work on the impeachment inquiry; Cummings had sent out subpoenas to the White House as recently as early October.

“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,” Cummings’s widow Maya Rockeymoore Cummings said in a statement.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi congratulates Cummings, the incoming House Oversight Committee chair and wife Maya Rockeymoore Cummings during a ceremonial swearing-in at the start of the 116th Congress on January 3, 2019.
Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images

Cummings’s death is sure to be a blow to both Democratic and Republican members of Congress, many of whom counted him as a friend.

“I was shocked and saddened to learn the news this morning of my dear friend’s passing,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a member of the Maryland delegation. “Elijah Cummings was a man of principle, patriotism, and conviction, whose loss will be deeply felt throughout the State of Maryland and our country. He taught his colleagues how to persevere in the face of adversity, laboring through health challenges in recent years out of a love for serving his constituents and country.”

Democrats were not the only ones grieving on Thursday morning. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), a member of the House Oversight Committee, said on Twitter he would miss Cummings “dearly.”

President Donald Trump, who targeted Cummings on Twitter earlier this year and once called the committee chair “racist,” also tweeted his condolences Thursday morning. “I got to see first hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader,” Trump said.

Details about Cummings’s funeral services have not yet been provided.

Cummings speaks to members of the media after Michael Cohen, former attorney and fixer for President Trump, testified before the House Oversight Committee on February 27, 2019.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) (second from left) stands with African-American Congressional staff members in protest of the Eric Garner and Mike Brown grand jury decisions which did not bring charges against police.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) (second from left) stands with African-American Congressional staff members while listening to Senate chaplain Dr. Barry Black (second from right) say a prayer during a walk-out outside the House of Representatives on December 11, 2014, to protest the Eric Garner and Mike Brown grand jury decisions, which did not bring charges against police.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Cummings at his campaign headquarters.
Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images
Cummings with civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson in 1978.
Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images
Portrait of politician and Maryland congressional representative Elijah Cummings, 1985.
Portrait of Elijah Cummings, 1985.
Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images

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