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Elijah Cummings (1951–2019), Democratic U.S. Representative from Maryland

by Linnea Crowther

Elijah Cummings was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, a Democrat representing Maryland’s 7th congressional district. He was elected to twelve terms in Congress, beginning in 1996 and most recently in the 2018 election, by the district covering portions of Baltimore and Baltimore County. Cummings was popular with his constituents, typically receiving more than 70% of the vote and once running entirely unopposed. In Congress, he served as chair of the Committee of Oversight and Government Reform, where he was a leader in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. Cummings also presided over testimony by Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen. Prior to his service in Congress, Cummings was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates for 14 years, where he was the first African American in the state’s history to serve as Speaker Pro Tempore.

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Died: October 17, 2019 (Who else died on October 17?)


Details of death: Died at Johns Hopkins Hospital of complications of longstanding health challenges at the age of 68.

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Subject of Trump’s tweets: Cummings recently found himself singled out by President Trump, when the president in July tweeted that Cummings “has been a brutal bully” regarding conditions at the U.S.-Mexico border. “[A]ctually his Baltimore district is FAR WORSE and more dangerous,” Trump continued, also calling Cummings’ district “rat and rodent infested” and saying, “If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous and filthy place.” The Baltimore Sun’s editorial in response went viral for its scathing accusations of racism against the president for his tweets, and Cummings’ fellow Democrats, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, joined the Sun with outrage over the comments and defense of Cummings.

Notable quote: “Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors. It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents.” —Cummings’ Twitter response to Trump’s accusations

What people said about him: “A devastating loss for our country. Chairman Cummings was a giant: a universally respected leader who brought profound insight, commitment, and moral fortitude to Congress. His guidance and vision was an enormous gift. I will forever cherish his example. May he rest in power.” —Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

“My heart is saddened at the loss of a colleague and friend.”  “Elijah cared deeply about public service and the importance of ‘representing your people’. Rest In Peace good and faithful servant.” —Michael Steele, former Republican National Committee chairman

“Elijah Cummings was the heart and soul of our caucus, a dignified leader with a voice that could move mountains. He was our moral and ethical North Star. Now we will be guided by his powerful memory and incomparable legacy.” —Rep. Adam Schiff

“I am so saddened to hear of the passing of Congressman Elijah Cummings. A true giant and champion for democracy. He was a fighter and patriot who loved this country and left a lasting legacy in American history. Sending love and prayers to his entire family, friends and staff.” —Meghan McCain

“Our Chairman leaves behind a beautiful and powerful legacy. I am already feeling the impact of a little less grace in the world. Deep gratitude to have spent these early months in Congress guided by his wisdom.”  —Rep. Ayanna Presley

“There was no stronger advocate and no better friend than Elijah Cummings. I am heartbroken for his wonderful family and staff — please pray for them. I will miss him dearly,” —Rep. Mark Meadows

“America lost a giant with the passing of Elijah Cummings, a man of principle who championed truth, justice, and kindness. He fiercely loved his country and the people he served. Rest in Peace, my friend.” —Hillary Clinton

“I am simply devastated and shocked by the loss of Chairman Elijah Cummings. Elijah was a fierce champion of justice, a moral leader in the House, and a wonderful mentor to me as a new Member of Congress.” —Rep. Ilhan Omar

“Elijah Cummings embodied the traits we should hope for in our public servants: decency, fairness, and steady leadership. He was a voice of conscience, compassion, and conviction. He will be missed, especially in this moment of national turmoil.” —Dan Rather

Full obituary: The Baltimore Sun

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