Following the death of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), his wife revealed that he was working until he died overnight.
His wife, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, is the head of the Maryland Democratic Party.
“Congressman Cummings was an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility,” Cummings said in a statement released 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’s been an honor to walk by his side on this incredible journey. I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly.”
His office confirmed to news outlets that he ultimately succumbed to a number of health problems. He had entered Johns Hopkins Hospital for a heart procedure in September and never came back to Congress.
Statement regarding the passing of @RepCummings : “He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity… I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly.” — @MayaRockeymoore pic.twitter.com/OLXVdHydoO
— MD Democratic Party (@mddems) October 17, 2019
The statement added that Cummings, the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, will be “remembered for dedicating his life’s work to improving the lives of others.”
Cummings’s long career spanned decades in Maryland politics. He rose through the ranks of the Maryland House of Delegates before winning his congressional seat in a special election in 1996 to replace former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who left the seat to lead the NAACP.
He was also an early supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential bid in 2008. By 2016, Cummings was the senior Democrat on the House Benghazi Committee, which he said was “nothing more than a taxpayer-funded effort to bring harm to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”
Recently, Cummings’s committee, which is tasked with investigating the federal government, was one of three involved in the House Democrat-led impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Cummings was one of three chairmen along with Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) to send a letter seeking documents into whether Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his family’s dealings in the country.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Trump tweeted his “condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings. I got to see first hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader.” The brief tweet made no reference to past feuds.
The Congressional Institute’s website says that after his death, the House Clerk will assume control of Cummings’s seat and direct “the staff, who remain in the House’s employ. Although the constituents of the district do not have a Member who can vote for them, the staff is still available to help them with casework and to provide information on legislation.” House vacancies are filled only via special elections.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.