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Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings Dies At Age 68

Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings died Thursday after what his office described as “complications concerning longstanding health challenges.” He passed away around 2:30 a.m. ET at Gilchrist Hospice Care. He was 68.

Cummings had represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District since 1996, serving 12 terms in the House, and was at the center of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, in his role as House Oversight Committee chairman.

The congressman last spoke on the House floor in late July before the House went on a six-week recess. For months, he had been seen moving around Capitol Hill on a motorized scooter. In 2017, he was sidelined for months following heart surgery and later told his staffers his recovery renewed his focus on the importance of his work.

Cummings, known for his soaring oratory, said during the pivotal hearing in February when the president’s former lawyer and personal fixer, Michael Cohen, testified before his 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? Did we stand on the sidelines and say nothing?”

The Maryland Democrat first ascended the heights of political power in his native Baltimore, never moving away from the inner-city, and serving for 14 years in the Maryland House of Delegates and became the first African American in Maryland history to be named Speaker Pro Tem.

Cummings was one of seven children whose parents were South Carolina sharecroppers who moved north for better opportunities. The congressman credited his parents — both preachers — with instilling in him a moral code that led him into public service.

In 2015, when riots erupted on the streets of Baltimore after the death of a 25-year-old black man in police custody, Cummings called for justice while urging calm.

He had been the victim of what Democrats said were racist attacks by the president, who tweeted that his congressional district covering parts of Baltimore was “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”

He is survived by his wife, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, 48, who serves as the chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party.

Reacting to the news of his death, several members mourned their longtime colleague and friend, saying that his loss is not only a loss for Baltimore, but for the country.

“When our nation can ill-afford to lose such a kind, principled leader, one of my dearest friends and mentors has left us. My heart is broken, as I weep personally and for his family and community. Elijah Cummings’ unmatched integrity and leadership leaves a remarkable legacy,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said in a statement. “But I know his struggle for justice and freedom lives on, as so many – like me – stand on his shoulders to carry on his courageous fight. May his memory be for a blessing.”


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