“When the history books are written about this tumultuous era, I want them to show that I was among those in the House of Representatives who stood up to lawlessness and tyranny,” Cummings said last month about his support for the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
“The Congress and the nation have lost one of the great ones,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA).
“This is a heartbreaking loss for Baltimore, Congress, and our entire country,” said Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL).
“Elijah Cummings was a good friend and a powerful advocate for what he believed,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO).
First elected to Congress in 1996, Cummings had in recent years become the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, sparring first with Republican investigations of the Obama Administration, and then taking the lead on investigations of President Trump and his administration.
In a statement released by aides to Cummings, his staff gave few details on his health troubles, saying that Cummings had died around 2:30 am on Thursday, in a hospice care facility, where the Maryland Democrat had been treated for “longstanding health challenges.”
It had been obvious to reporters in recent months that Cummings was facing some sort of health challenge, as he was using a wheelchair in the halls of Congress, and then a walker to make his way on to the floor of the House.
But in interviews with reporters in the Speaker’s Lobby just off the House floor, his voice still seemed strong, and gave no hint of immediate medical troubles.
“We’re going to uphold the rule of law,” Cummings told me and other reporters in mid-May, as he outlined efforts to get information from the White House, which were routinely stonewalled by the Trump Administration.
Cummings had returned after Labor Day, but had missed most votes after mid-September.