Rest in Power: Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (1951 – 2019)

Elijah Cummings, representative for Maryland’s 7th District, died last night. He had served his constituents since 1996.

His passing is a huge loss for his district, his state, and our country.

Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, spoke with NPR this morning about Cummings’ passing.

Check The Baltimore Sun’s reporting on Cummings’ death and what will become of his seat.

U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings dies; longtime Baltimore advocate was key figure in Trump impeachment inquiry

What will happen to Elijah Cummings’ seat in Congress after his death? Here’s what the law says.

Cummings’ remarks this summer were prescient:

He made them the day Robert Mueller testified before Congress about the Special Counsel’s investigation — the evening before Trump offered a quid pro quo to Ukraine’s Zelensky.

Rep. Ted Lieu noted his colleague’s passing:

We need more public servants like Cummings, working for the people and this democracy until the end. Rest in power, sir.

43 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    A personal observation: my oldest who is 25 years old texted me first thing this morning, before I was even fully awake, to tell me that Cummings had died.

    It says something about Cummings’ body of work and his legacy that his passing would be the first thing on my daughter’s mind this morning.

    • Eureka says:

      Similar here, it was the first thing a loved one said to me, and a reflection on Cummings’s impact.

      Thank you, Rayne.

      I just get rendered mute when I think about this.

  2. harpie says:

    Thank you, Rayne.
    I feel so crushed.

    Here is video of Cumming’s first floor speech , 4/25/96
    [maybe I can find a better one] He got a standing ovation.

    He recites the poem by Dr. Benjamin E. Mays:

    I’ve only just a minute,
    Only sixty seconds in it.
    Forced upon me, can’t refuse it,
    Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it,
    But it’s up to me to use it.
    I must suffer if I lose it,
    Give an account if I abuse it,
    Just a tiny little minute,
    But eternity is in it.

  3. BobCon says:

    The guy was full of integrity, and I want to stress he had a mind as strong as his heart. You could not watch one of his hearings, whether on major or relatively trivial matters without realizing he knew the subject matter and the issues at hand. Every time. You did not read a letter coming out of his office and find yourself scratching your head — he made sure when he wrote something or made a statement that it had substance and strong arguments behind it.

    Possibly the greatest insult that the GOP has inflicted on our government is the stupidity they wield. Whether it is Trump, or often Bush before him, or bit players like Meadows, Nunes and Jordan, the GOP has not only championed cruelty but stupidity. Facts, logic, clarity of mind are their enemies as much as fairness and humanity.

    Cummings was a guy who stood up to that assault. He wasn’t just a man who understood the need for mercy as a part of justice, he understood that justice needs thought, analysis, research and the proper application of principles. He cared for these things as much as he cared about daily needs of his constituents. We need a lot more in Congress who are like him.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      What an inspiration to watch Cummings at the helm of a hearing.
      Ted Lieu, Schiff, and others that he mentored will carry forth his spirit: it will be a legacy worth watching.

    • FiestyBlueBird says:

      Very well said, BobCon.

      I must admit, I had a pretty lengthy time of not being even aware of the guy, but as I’ve watched things much more closely in the past few years, by sometime earlier this year I’d come to the conclusion that I cannot think of any person in the House or Senate who embodies more what I wish the soul of this nation could be, than did Elijah. Intelligence, honesty, class, compassion.

  4. Jenny says:

    Rayne, than you. This morning I cried.
    Representative Elijah E. Cummings, a true leader who served the people.

    • Jenny says:

      “When we’re dancing with the angels, the question will be asked, in 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact?” — Rep. Elijah Cummings.

  5. Jim White says:

    Thanks so much for doing this, Rayne. Cummings has been such a force of nature in these investigations. Learning of his passing was the worst possible way to start the day.

  6. bloopie2 says:

    And what his wife said: “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 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.”

  7. BroD says:

    I’m proud he was my Congressman. To be honest, I supported another candidate for that office in the initial primary but, once in office, Cummings quickly won me over by the depth of his understanding, his tenacity and his heart-felt eloquence . I suspect, also, that there was a special B-more connection between Cummings and the Speaker of the House.

  8. OldTulsaDude says:

    While I’m left trying to process all the emptiness and sadness that accompanies death, I am reminded that there still lives a powerful force whose goal is to make the life and sacrifices of Elijah Cummings meaningless. That cannot stand.

  9. Savage Librarian says:

    I was deeply saddened this morning when I learned Elijah Cummings had passed from his monumental place in this world. It feels like I have lost a close friend and family member, even though we never met and he wouldn’t know me from Eve. It is such a tragic loss to our nation and the global community.

    But he will live forever in my heart. He has enriched all of us with his spirit, kindness, intellect and dignity. He quietly reinforced the decency that is, not only necessary but, vital to our democracy. That is something money and status can never buy.

    The next time I go to vote, I will be remembering Elijah Cummings. I have a feeling that I will be just one of a multitude who will be.

  10. PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

    Sad news… I don’t know much about his work prior to this current political age, but he ran his committee with incisiveness, grace in the face of a lot of bs, and genuinely cared about what he was doing.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As others have said, Cummings lived his principles. He went home to his constituency every night.

    He didn’t live in a GOP-style dormitory or house sharing arrangement and fly home every weekend, which infantilizes congresscritters and makes them party-dependent. He did not live in Georgetown or Chevy Chase, his neighbors were not WaPo reporters, investment bankers, and social mavens.

    He lived in his home district. He lived with its ups and downs, its people, its problems, its joys and sorrows, and its future promise, which he spent decades making a reality.

    In many ways, he made it, but he didn’t pull the ladder up after him. He extended a helping hand and tried to institutionalize it, to make opportunity a reality instead of a whim.

  12. Theresa N says:

    I feel depressed that Congressman Cummings passed. I did not know about his serious health issues or that he was in hospice, so I’m shocked as well. We needed his voice more than ever. Such a loss for us. I wish it weren’t true.

    Plus, he deserved to be here and take credit for his contribution toward the demise of the trumpcrimesyndicate & trumpcrimefamily

  13. Kate says:

    I think it’s hard to understand that a man who always seemed so vital is gone-almost just like that. He worked Friday. I’m sad and it’s a great loss for us all. Nice to be here though.

    • Valerie Klyman-Clark says:

      “Where did all that himness go? It was . . . as if a library burned to the ground.” I flew into Salisbury, Maryland today and teared up at the flags at half mast.

  14. Linda says:

    Elijah has left us with the question we must answer in 2020, in that minute that we mark a ballot, that will decide whether we love our country or not. Whether we stand with all of those who fought and died for our freedom or do we sell our souls. Do we leave our children a world in the hands of evil or do we give them the chance to accomplish what we fought so hard for. God bless Elijah and his family and for all those who fought for us. My heart is broken today, we lost a beautiful soul, God got one of his best creations back home.

  15. Eureka says:

    Now I have words.

    I’d like us to make a world where we could have seen Chairman Cummings at work with his nasal cannula of O2 and his walker.

    Yesterday, Manu Raju had a couple of tweets describing Cummings’s recent health aids (as above, plus a motorized scooter). The top replies then (17th) were people quite angry that those details had been revealed, accusing Raju of diminishing Cummings’s dignity. And in either those tweets or elsewhere, it was recounted that Cummings would have to pause and catch his breath before speaking at times.

    Well WTF does everyone think happens to people as they age and before they die. Rhetorical question, I know: that’s supposed to be a private-space secret, to keep the consciousness of our own mortality at bay.

    I worry that Capitol Hill awareness of his declining health partly informed Trump’s late summer attacks on Cummings, too, because Trump is weak like that.

    And we have a press that– had he more often displayed his assistive devices in public– would have wound it into the dems-drama / impeachment storyline. But kept or signalled as ‘private,’ the press, too, kept it more private.

    Note that I am not questioning how Elijah Cummings conducted himself, or his choices; I just wish we’d take the shame out of aging. Same with other life-phases or states that look like “disability.”

    Powerful people ride scooters. Powerful people pause to catch their breaths.

  16. Vince says:

    Earlier in the evening of his death, Cummings was SIGNING SUBPOENAS brought to him by his aides. Public servant to the very end.


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