Elijah Cummings, Longtime Maryland Congressman, Has Died at 68 – Rolling Stone
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Congressman Elijah Cummings, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Dead at 68

The longtime representative from Maryland was one of the most powerful members of the House of Representatives

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., speaks during a luncheon at the National Press Club in WashingtonCummings, Washington, USA - 07 Aug 2019

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., speaks during a luncheon at the National Press Club in WashingtonCummings, Washington, USA - 07 Aug 2019

Patrick Semansky/AP/Shutterstock

Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight Committee and longtime congressman from Baltimore, died early Thursday morning of health complications, his office confirmed. He was 68.

Cummings, who had represented Maryland’s 7th District in Congress since 1996, was one of the most powerful members of the House of Representatives, chairing the Oversight Committee that had been investigating President Donald Trump regarding a number of issues.

But his health had deteriorated in the weeks prior to his death. He was often seen with a breathing tube on the House floor, took frequent trips to the hospital, and had delegated a large portion of his work as Oversight Committee chairman. He had not taken part in a House roll-call vote since September 11th, and was absent from his office this week after undergoing an unspecified medical procedure, according to the Baltimore Sun. The statement released by his office Thursday morning described the cause of death as “complications concerning longstanding health challenges.” He died just after 2:30 a.m. in a hospice care center affiliated with Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

Throughout his career Cummings was known as a staunch advocate for inner-city Americans, particularly those living in his hometown of Baltimore. He served as a guiding voice for the city for more than two decades, perhaps most notably in 2015 following the death of Freddie Gray and the resultant protests. He was also known as one of the most effective orators in Congress. In February, he delivered a moving address as Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen testified before the Oversight Committee. “When we’re dancing with the angels, the question we’ll be asked: In 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact?” he said. “Did we stand on the sidelines and say nothing?”

In the wake of his death, many have shared the first speech he gave on the House floor, in 1996, which received a standing ovation. In it, Cummings quotes a poem that stresses how we “only have a minute” to exact change on the world.

 

More recently, Cummings was one of Trump’s fiercest opponents in Congress. The investigations he led into Trump’s corruption drew the ire of the president, who trashed Cummings’ home of Baltimore as “disgusting” and “rodent-infested,” and later mocked the burglarization of the congressman’s house. Cummings responded with aplomb. “Those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language, and encouraging reprehensible behavior,” Cummings said in a speech at the National Press Club.

Trump tweeted his condolences Thursday morning.

Several House representatives of both parties have paid their respects, as well.

So too did Cummings’ widow, Maryland Democratic Party chair Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings. “Congressman Cummings was an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility,” she wrote in a statement. “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.”

This story is developing.

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