Elijah E. Cummings, a Democratic congressman from Maryland who most recently sparred with Donald Trump, died early Thursday morning at Gilchrist Hospice Care, a Johns Hopkins affiliate in Baltimore. He was 68.
After undergoing an unspecified medical procedure, Cummings did not return to his office this week, the Baltimore Sun reported. A statement from his office confirmed he passed away due to “complications concerning longstanding health challenges.”
As chairman of the House Oversight Committee, the 23-year veteran of Capitol Hill led multiple investigations into Trump and his administration. These inquiries angered the president, who criticized the congressman’s district in July as a “rodent-infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.” Cummings had represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District since 1996.
The son of a sharecropper, Cummings became a lawyer and then judge before he was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1983, where he served until 1996. He was elected to the House of Representatives in a 1996 special election, per USA Today.
“Congressman Cummings was an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility,” Cummings’ wife, Maya Rockeymoore, chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party, said in a statement on Thursday.
“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 has been an honor to walk by his side on this incredible journey. I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly,” she said
“We lost a giant today,” tweeted presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. “Congressman Elijah Cummings was a fearless leader, a protector of democracy, and a fighter for the people of Maryland. Our world is dimmer without him in it.”
“He was not just a great congressman, he was a great man,” House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on MSNBC Thursday morning.
Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. Young said in a statement that “people throughout the world have lost a powerful voice and one of the strongest and most gifted crusaders for social justice.”