Maryland Democrat Representative Elija Cummings, who headed a key legislative committee in investigating President Donald Trump, died today at age 68.
The legislator’s office reported Cummings’ death at a Johns Hopkins Hospital affiliate in Baltimore and said the death was due to “complications from long-standing health problems”.
The Baltimore Sun reported that after he underwent an unspecified medical procedure, Cummings had not returned to his office this week.
Cummings has been a congressional representative of a Maryland district since 1996 and, in his role as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, was at the center of the investigation that that chamber is conducting to subject Trump to impeachment.
In a message on his Twitter account, President Trump expressed his deepest “condolences to the family and many friends” of the late legislator.
“His work and his voice on so many fronts will be very difficult, if not impossible, to replace,” added Trump, of whom the congressman was an implacable critic.
“Legislator Cummings was a man of honor who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility,” his wife, Maya Rockeymoore, who presides over the Democratic Party in the state of Maryland, said in a statement.
Cummings “worked to the end because he believed that our democracy was the best and highest expression of our humanity as a whole, and that the diversity of our nation is our promise, not our problem,” he added.
The African American legislator, known for his passionate oratory, represented a black majority district that covers a substantial portion of Baltimore City and extends to higher-income residential neighborhoods.
Born into a family of rural tenants and Southern Baptist preachers, Cummings grew up in Baltimore, a racially segregated city in the 1950s and 1960s.
His militancy against desegregation began early, and at age 11 he helped dismantle the racist norms of a local swimming pool by confronting the violence of whites throwing bottles and rocks.
Cummings came to Congress in 1996 and later became president of the Congressional Black Caucus.