Elijah Cummings Dead At 68, Democratic Congressman Had Battled Long-Standing Health Issue

Rep. Elijah Cummings speaks at the National Press Club .
Win McNamee / Getty Images

Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) has passed away at the age of 68, according to CBS News, citing a statement from the late legislator’s office. According to the release, Cummings succumbed to a long-standing health issue.

As chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Cummings spent 23 years in the House and had been a central figure in the widely-televised proceedings involving former Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and the special counsel, Robert Mueller III.

Battles With Donald Trump

Cummings had a reputation as one of the finest orators in politics who was absolutely dedicated to his district, which encompassed the city o Baltimore and some of the surrounding suburbs. He came under fire from President Trump due to the multiple investigations he lead into the administration, as the President criticized Cumming’s district as a “rodent-infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.”

Cummings replied with condemnation of Trump’s “hateful, incendiary comments,” saying they only divide the country as it faces serious problems such as mass shootings and white supremacy.

In a speech to the National Press Club, Cummings said, “Those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior.”

Political Career

That situation was only the most recent footnote of an esteemed career in both national and Maryland politics, one that saw him rise through the Maryland House of Delegates after entering in 1983, becoming the state’s first black delegate to become House speaker pro tem. He entered the House of Representatives after a 1996 election to replace former Rep. Kweisi Mfume.

As a veteran in politics, Cummings was associated with some of the most high-profile political stories in recent years. He was the senior Democrat on the House Benghazi Committee, criticizing the investigation as “nothing more than a taxpayer-funded effort to bring harm to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.” Cummings was also one of Barack Obama’s earliest supporters in his 2008 presidential campaign.

Elijah Cummings speaks to the media at the University of Baltimore, May 5, 2015.
  Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Cummings was a strong advocate for his majority-black distrct and was a strong member of his community. He regularly pushed for legislation that would benefit those that are poor or have addiction problems, including needle exchange programs as a way to reduce the spread of AIDS.

Speaking to 60 Minutes, Cummings described what it was like to be the representative of his district, saying, “I like to be among my constituents. Let me tell you something man, if I don’t do well in this block I’m in trouble. I mean, if you wanna take a poll, if I lost in this block I might as well go– I might as well stay home.”

Role In Baltimore Riots

In 2015, Baltimore was the scene of riots following the death of Freddie Gray, an African American man who died in police custody following an arrest. As The Baltimore Sun reported at the time, Cummings himself took to the streets, carrying a bullhorn and pleading for calm as violence carried out around him.

Elijah Cummings speaks to the media while monitoring protesters near a CVS pharmacy that was looted and burned by rioters on Monday after the funeral of Freddie Gray.
  Andrew Burton / Getty Images

Early Life, Education, Family

Cummings was born in Baltimore in 1951, the son of parents who had been sharecroppers. He overcame his humble beginnings to graduate with honors from Baltimore City College High School. He then attended Howard University, one of America’s traditionally black colleges, where he achieved high academic honors, before going to law school at the University of Maryland School of Law.

elijah cummings with hillary clinton
  Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Throughout his life he had also received 12 honorary doctoral degrees from various universities across the country.

He married Maya Rockeymoore, with whom he had three children.

Maya Rockeymoore at a news conference to announce the introduction of Social Security 2100 Act.
  Allison Shelley / Getty Images
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Ten Years ago today, Elijah and I celebrated the inauguration of President Barack Obama at a midnight reception at the White House. We were happy for the Obama’s and giddy with hope about America’s future. Today as we celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday, it is important to remember that social progress is not promised and the path towards liberty, opportunity, justice for all cannot be achieved without sustained political effort. Let us renew our determination to bring integrity and hope to our democracy by joining hands to #TurnTheWhiteHouseBlue in 2020. The fate of our children, our country, and our planet depends on what people of good will—regardless of political affiliation or previous level of engagement—do now to change the direction of the nation and world. #mlkday2019 #obama #inclusion #hope #justice #politics #unitedstates #martinlutherking #holiday #mlkholiday @repcummings

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In 2011, as CNN reported at the time, tragedy struck Cummings’ family. Cummings’ nephew, Christopher Cummings, had apparently had a confrontation with a robber in May of that year. Three weeks later, the young man was killed, in his roommate wounded. Christopher’s father, Elijah Cummings’ brother, had himself survived the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in New York City.

Net Worth

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Cummings was estimated to have had around $1.3 million in assets, with his personal asset disclosure revealing that he had between $1.1 million and $1.5 million in wealth. This figure included his $750,000 Baltimore home.

Cause of Death

As of this writing, Cummings’ cause of death has not been officially revealed. However, as The Baltimore Sun reported in July 2017, in May of that year Cummings had been treated for surgery to repair an aortic valve, one of the major components of the heart. Two months later, he developed an infection related to the surgery, and was again treated in the hospital.

Funeral Arrangements

As Vox reports, as of this writing funeral arrangements for Cummings have not been announced. And according to The Congressional Institute, by law flags at the Capitol will be flown at half-staff for ten days, as is customary following the death of a sitting member of Congress.