(Reuters) – U.S. Consultant Elijah Cummings, one of the vital influential Democrats in Congress and a key determine within the impeachment inquiry towards President Donald Trump, died on Thursday at age 68.
The reason for loss of life was “problems regarding longstanding well being challenges,” his workplace stated in a press release. Cummings had been absent not too long ago from Congress as a consequence of well being issues together with coronary heart and knee issues.
The son of sharecroppers who rose to guide the highly effective Home Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings clashed with Trump over a number of probes involving the Republican president, from his private funds to potential abuses at federal companies.
The oversight committee is considered one of three congressional panels main impeachment proceedings that have been launched on Sept. 24 after Trump requested Ukraine to analyze 2020 Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden.
Cummings’ substitute as chairman will probably be determined within the coming days, largely by Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Such replacements are sometimes primarily based on seniority, which might put Consultant Carolyn Maloney of New York subsequent in line, however it isn’t essentially the deciding issue.
The Maryland Democrat, first elected in 1996, served as oversight chairman since January after the Democrats gained management of the Home of Representatives in 2018 elections.
Earlier than the impeachment probe, Cummings’ committee had been investigating whether or not Trump used his workplace to counterpoint himself, his household or his companies together with Trump accommodations.
His panel has additionally been concerned in fights with the Trump administration over subpoenas challenged by the president.
The African American lawmaker known as Trump a racist and sharply criticized his immigration insurance policies.
Regardless of their variations, Trump issued condolences to Cummings household and mates on Thursday.
“I received to see first hand the power, ardour and knowledge of this extremely revered political chief. His work and voice on so many fronts will probably be very exhausting, if not unimaginable, to interchange!” he stated on Twitter.
Cummings’ investigations drew Trump’s ire over the summer time after his committee issued subpoenas to White Home officers, together with Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in a probe of presidency record-keeping.
In July, Trump known as Cummings a “brutal bully” who ought to consider cleansing up his “disgusting, rat and rodent infested” Baltimore district slightly than criticizing the work of U.S. immigration officers on the Mexican border.
Fellow Democrats acknowledged Cummings’ dedication to equity, civil rights and to his hometown, a various metropolis that has struggled with racism and poverty.
“As we speak now we have misplaced an enormous,” U.S. Home Majority Whip James Clyburn stated.
Fellow Maryland lawmaker U.S. Senator Ben Cardin stated, “Cummings assured a voice to so many who would in any other case not have one, and stood as a logo for the heights one might attain in the event that they paid no thoughts to obstacles, naysayers and hate.”
Some Republicans issued tributes together with Cummings’ oversight committee colleague Mark Meadows. “There was no stronger advocate and no higher buddy than Elijah Cummings,” he wrote on Twitter.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a congressman earlier than changing into considered one of Trump’s most trusted advisers, known as Cummings a “devoted public servant” in a Twitter submit.
Cummings was a trial lawyer earlier than being elected to workplace to symbolize Baltimore and different components of central Maryland, and has championed civil rights points.
He graduated from Howard College, the place he earned a bachelor’s diploma in political science, and the College of Maryland College of Regulation.
Reporting by Wealthy McKay in Atlanta, Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu in Washington, further reporting by Richard Cowan; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Enhancing by Steve Orlofsky