Fri, Oct 18, 2019 - Page 7 News List

US Representative Elijah Cummings dies aged 68

COMMITTEE CHAIR:A sharecropper’s son who became a trial lawyer before turning to politics, Cummings was at the center of the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump

AP, BALTIMORE, Maryland

US Representative Elijah Cummings died early yesterday in Baltimore, Maryland, due to complications from longstanding health challenges, his congressional office said. He was 68.

“Elijah E. Cummings passed away at John Hopkins Hospital due to complications concerning longstanding health challenges,” his office said in a statement.

A sharecropper’s son, Cummings was a formidable orator who passionately advocated for the poor in his black-majority district, which encompasses a large portion of Baltimore as well as more well-to-do suburbs, and he became the powerful chairman of a US House of Representatives Oversight and Reform Committee, putting him at the center of the impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump.

Cummings led multiple investigations of the president’s governmental dealings, including probes this year relating to the president’s family members serving in the White House, the president’s personal finances, as well as possible abuses in federal agencies in the administration.

Trump responded by criticizing the Democrat’s district as a “rodent-infested mess” where “no human being would want to live,” just weeks after he called for four Democratic women of color to get out of the US and go back to their “broken and crime-infested countries.”

Cummings replied that government officials must stop making “hateful, incendiary comments” that only serve to divide and distract the nation from its real problems, including mass shootings and white supremacy.

“Those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior,” Cummings said in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington.

Cummings rose through the ranks of the Maryland House of Delegates, before winning his congressional seat in a special election in 1996 to replace former US representative Kweisi Mfume.

Cummings was an early supporter of then-US senator Barack Obama’s presidential bid in 2008.

Throughout his career, Cummings used his fiery voice to highlight the struggles and needs of inner-city residents.

He was a firm believer in some much-debated approaches to help the poor and addicted, such as needle exchange programs as a way to reduce the spread of AIDS.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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