Politics

Rep. Elijah Cummings dies at 68, local leaders pay tribute

BALTIMORE, MD—U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore died of a long-standing illness early Thursday morning according to his office.  He was 68 years old.

A spokesman for the key Democrat said that he passed away at Johns Hopkins Hospital at around 2:45 a.m.

Cummings had recently been embroiled in a Twitter battle with President Donald Trump over the conditions within his district in Baltimore City, with the president referring to his area as “rat-infested” and questioning where the billions of dollars in aid Baltimore City had received went.

Cummings had also recently become a key figure in the recent impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

In 2017, he underwent an aortic valve replacement procedure. The surgery caused a subsequent infection that kept him hospitalized longer than initially anticipated. Cummings was later also hospitalized for a knee infection.

He had not participated in a roll call vote since September 11, according to The Baltimore Sun.

In February, Cummings and U.S. Rep. John Katko reintroduced The Harriet Tubman Tribute Act, bipartisan legislation that would direct the Secretary of the Treasury to place the likeness of Harriet Tubman on $20 Federal Reserve notes printed after December 31, 2020, a move that Governor Larry Hogan endorsed in June.

Local leaders reflected on the passing of Rep. Cummings on Thursday.

“My heartfelt sympathies are extended to the family, colleagues, and constituents of Congressman Cummings,” Councilman David Marks told NottinghamMD in a statement.

“Congressman Elijah Cummings was a true public servant, who dedicated his life to Baltimore,” said Councilwoman Cathy Bevins. “He advocated tirelessly to protect our democracy, and for social justice. His service to our communities will never be forgotten, but he will forever be missed. I send my most sincere condolences to his family. May he rest in peace.”

“Congressman Cummings believed in the power of government to improve lives, and he was a champion for those who needed a strong voice for them in Washington,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski. “He dedicated his life to the people of the Baltimore region, and we are better for his service. May he Rest In Peace.”

“I would like to extend the most heartfelt sympathy to the family of Congressman Elijah Cummings, on behalf of Baltimore County Public Schools,” said BCPS Superintendent Darryl Williams. “Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time. We deeply appreciate Mr. Cummings’ advocacy and support of rigorous public education for all students as the lifelong gift of freedom.”

“The death of Congressman Cummings is a huge loss for Maryland, and all Americans,” said Chesapeake Bay Foundation President Will Baker. “He was a towering force for good, a champion of truth and justice for all, and a great friend and defender of the Chesapeake Bay.”

“I was profoundly saddened to learn of the death of Congressman Elijah Cummings,” said Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Michael Harrison. “In my short time here in Baltimore, I grew to know him well and deeply value his support, encouragement and advice. He was a trailblazer for the civil rights movement, an icon in this community and a great supporter of the Baltimore Police Department. His presence will be missed forever. We pray that God will give his family peace and comfort during this time.”

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Governor Larry Hogan issued the following statement:

Governor Hogan has also ordered that all Maryland flags be flown at half-staff.

Leaders are also remembering Rep. Cummings across the nation.

“Elijah Cummings was a champion for Baltimore and its residents, for Maryland and for our country,” said California Senator Dianne Feinstein. “My thoughts go out to his friends, family and constituents, each of whom are suffering today. My everlasting thanks for everything he’s done for our nation.”

“Elijah Cummings was a giant,” said Rep. Sean Casten of Illinois. “He was a champion in the civil rights movement, a passionate fighter for justice, who used his powerful voice to lift up those who often felt powerless. We were fortunate to have him.”

“(I am) very sorry to hear of the passing of Chairman Elijah Cummings,” said Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “He was a dignified and honest man, a civil rights leader, and a powerful legislator.”

House Oversight Committee ranking Republican Jim Jordan said that Chairman Elijah Cummings was “a man of great consequence and significance on the Oversight Committee for the last twenty years..He injected an unyielding passion and purpose into his work on the Committee.”

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