U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings’ Capitol Hill office was shrouded in black on Thursday.
The Maryland Democrat’s death at age 68 stunned and saddened his colleagues in Congress, some of whom had difficulty speaking about him on Thursday morning after his death was announced earlier in the day.
“Everybody’s shell shocked,” Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin told Maryland Matters Thursday morning.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) paid tribute to Cummings Thursday morning in the U.S. Capitol, calling him a “dear friend, revered and respected colleague,” and “my brother in Baltimore.” In Congress, she said, “Elijah was considered a North Star. He was a leader of towering character and integrity.”
As chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings was central to the House efforts to oversee the Trump administration, and he was a key player in the early stages of the impeachment inquiry against President Trump. Cummings had served in Congress since 1996.
The oversight committee will be led — at least temporarily — by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., who is the next most senior Democrat on the committee, Raskin said. She will lead the committee on an acting basis until the Democratic caucus meets to pick a permanent replacement, he said.
Raskin told the Capital-Star’s sister site, Maryland Matters last week that Cummings had been “an extremely engaged chairman in conducting oversight over the executive branch.”
But Cummings also thought “that a crucial role of his leadership is to recruit and train and promote the work of the junior members on the committee. I know he’s very proud of the work that all of us have been doing on the investigative side,” Raskin said.
U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, D-3rd District, the state’s only member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said he’d “lost a friend & colleague. Baltimore, Maryland and America have lost a civil rights activist and tireless advocate and leader. Rest in Power, Chairman Cummings.”
Today I have lost a friend & colleague.
Baltimore, Maryland and America have lost a civil rights activist and tireless advocate and leader.
Rest in Power, Chairman Cummings.https://t.co/LR4Pywg7PC
— Congressman Dwight Evans (@RepDwightEvans) October 17, 2019