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The Latest: House observes moment of silence for Cummings

Posted at 6:11 PM, Oct 17, 2019

BALTIMORE (AP) — The Latest on the death of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (all times local):

5:20 p.m.

The House has observed a moment of silence in honor of Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, who died Thursday.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a fellow Maryland Democrat, said Cummings was a quiet man who did not seek the limelight but "was not afraid to step out into the arena and fight hard for the causes in which he believed strongly."

Hoyer said those causes include justice, equality, opportunity, civil rights, education and children. Cummings liked to say that "children are the message we send to a future we will never see."

Hoyer said Cummings, of Baltimore, was beloved by his constituents and his congressional colleagues alike.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., called Cummings "a respected adversary" and said he was tough but fair. Cummings was a popular figure among Republicans.


5:20 p.m.

Former President Barack Obama is praising Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings for his principled stands and pursuit of truth, justice and reconciliation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls the late Baltimore lawmaker "a voice of unsurpassed moral clarity and truth."

But it's not just Democrats who are mourning Cummings after his death Thursday at age 68.

Republicans hailed Cummings as a statesman who reached across the aisle and made rare bipartisan friendships in an era of intense political polarization.

Trump called Cummings "a highly respected political leader" while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was a legend who won close friends and admirers from across the political spectrum.

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, one of the most conservative members of Congress, said he was "heartbroken."


1 p.m.

Former president Bill Clinton and his wife, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, are praising the life and work of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings.

In a written statement Thursday they called him "a resounding voice of moral courage who fought the good fights for the people of Baltimore, and faithfully honored his oath to protect and defend the Constitution with a passion, skill, determination, and dignity rarely matched in our history."

They also praised his leadership on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform "in finding facts, exposing fictions, and demanding that our government be accountable."

Cummings, who died early Thursday, was a defender of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton when Republicans investigated her work as secretary of state.

In 2016, Cummings was the senior Democrat on the House Benghazi Committee, which he said was "nothing more than a taxpayer-funded effort to bring harm to Hillary Clinton's campaign."


12:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump has issued a proclamation ordering U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff "as a mark of respect for the memory and longstanding public service of Representative Elijah E. Cummings, of Maryland," who died early Thursday.

Trump's order applies to the White House and federal buildings and properties, including military posts and ships, across the nation and overseas. It's in effect through Friday, Oct. 18.



Former Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina is paying tribute to the late Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings. Gowdy, who chaired the House Benghazi and Oversight committees, frequently sparred with Cummings, the top Democrat on both panels.

But Gowdy said on Twitter that Cummings, who died Thursday, was "one of the most powerful, beautiful & compelling voices in American politics," whose authenticity and sincerely held beliefs were an inspiration.

While the two men rarely agreed on politics, Gowdy said "we never had a cross word outside of a committee room." Gowdy praised Cummings for what he called "a unique ability to separate the personal from the work."

He said Cummings, the son of a South Carolina sharecropper, overcame external obstacles "and sometimes internal doubt" to become a lawyer and congressman at the center of major political issues over the past decade.

Gowdy chaired the special House committee that investigated the 2012 attacks at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, in which the U.S. ambassador and other Americans died. He chaired the House Oversight and Reform Committee that Cummings would later lead when Democrats took the House after the 2018 elections.


11:40 a.m.

Leading Democrats in the presidential race are mourning the death of Rep. Elijah Cummings.

Joe Biden said the Maryland congressman's life was "defined by the love of his community and a fierce commitment to ensuring truth wins over power."

Elizabeth Warren called him a dear friend, and said "good people everywhere will miss his rumbling voice, his kind heart, and his deep conviction that every human being has worth."

Bernie Sanders said it was an honor to work closely with him over the years, and that "his integrity and moral vision for his community and the country were extraordinary."

Pete Buttigieg called on Americans to "honor him by insisting on justice and integrity in leadership, as he did." And Kamala Harris said "we lost a giant today," describing Cummings as a "protector of democracy."


11:30 a.m.

Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis says that with the death of Rep. Elijah Cummings, Americans "have lost a great leader at a time of crisis in our democracy."

Lewis credits the powerful chairman of the House Oversight committee with leading the nation to a place where it's understood that reform is urgently required.

The Georgia Democrat says his colleague from Maryland "was not afraid to use the power vested in him to inquire, investigate and demand the answers the American people deserve."


11:15 a.m.

Former President Barack Obama says he and Michelle "are heartbroken" over the passing of their friend, Elijah Cummings.

Obama says that as chairman of the House oversight committee, Cummings "showed us all not only the importance of checks and balances within our democracy, but also the necessity of good people stewarding it."

Obama's statement calls the Democrat from Maryland "steely yet compassionate, principled yet open to new perspectives" and "steadfast in his pursuit of truth, justice, and reconciliation."

Obama said "it's a tribute to his native Baltimore that one of its own brought such character, tact, and resolve into the halls of power every day," and he hopes Cummings' example will "inspire more Americans to pick up the baton and carry it forward in a manner worthy of his service."


11 a.m.

The American flag is flying at half-staff over the White House and Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ordered flags at the U.S. Capitol to be lowered as well in honor of Rep. Elijah Cummings, the powerful House oversight chairman who died Thursday at age 68.

Pelosi said Cummings' wife, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, told her that the congressman "fought to the very end."

Pelosi says she's also naming legislation to lower prescription drug prices for Cummings.

She grew up in Cummings' Maryland district, told reporters at her weekly press conference that she is "devastated" by the death of her "brother in Baltimore."

She added that Cummings "lived the American dream and he wanted it for everyone else."


10:40 a.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opened the chamber Thursday by praising the late Rep. Elijah Cummings as a "living legend" and "a powerful and passionate voice with "friends and admirers all across the political spectrum."

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, said "Cummings was not just a great congressman, he was a great man."

Rep. Adam Schiff, who with Cummings has led investigations of President Donald Trump, called his friend "the heart and soul of our caucus, a dignified leader with a voice that could move mountains" and "our moral and ethical North Star."

Ivanka Trump has tweeted her condolences as well, calling Cummings a "courageous public servant" and "a son of sharecroppers" who "tirelessly championed his community and country."


10:20 a.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden says Rep. Elijah Cummings "knew the fights that needed a champion, and he never hesitated to jump into the fray."

The Democratic presidential candidate's statement recalls that Cummings faced "a hail of bottles and insults as a young man marching to integrate a swimming pool," and in 2015, how he rushed into the streets of Baltimore, "bullhorn in hand," to try to calm the crowds after the funeral of Freddie Gray, a young black man who died in police custody.

Biden says Cummings' moral authority "showed us how to stand firmly for our rights and for what is right, how to never back down, without turning to personal disparagement and recrimination."


10:05 a.m.

A veteran House Democrat from New York City will for now take over the House committee that the late Rep. Elijah Cummings has chaired.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney will serve as acting chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee until Democrats choose a permanent chair at an undetermined future date.

That's according to a senior Democratic leadership aide who spoke on condition of anonymity because the aide wasn't authorized to discuss the decision publicly.

Maloney has served in Congress since 1993.

Cummings' committee has had a leading role in the House's impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump.

The Maryland Democrat was 68 when he died early Thursday of complications from long-running health problems.


Associated Press Writer Alan Fram contributed this item.


10 a.m.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she's devastated by the death of Rep. Elijah Cummings. She calls him a leader of "towering character and integrity, whose stirring voice and steadfast values pushed the Congress and country to rise always to a higher purpose."

Her statement says Cummings' chairmanship of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform proved his commitment to "restoring honesty and honor to government."

Pelosi is a native of Cummings' district in Baltimore, where she says "we will miss our champion."


9:10 a.m.

President Donald Trump is expressing his condolences to the family of Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, who died Thursday.

Trump and Cummings sparred repeatedly. The president tweeted that said he got to see firsthand the "strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader."

Trump says his work and voice on so many issues will be "hard, if not impossible, to replace!"

Cummings led multiple investigations of the president's governmental dealings, including probes relating to the president's family members serving in the White House. Trump responded by criticizing the Democrat's Maryland district as a "rodent-infested mess."


8:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump's campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh is expressing sadness about the death of Rep. Elijah Cummings.

Murtaugh called the Maryland Democrat an "American icon for sure," but Trump and the chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee had a rocky relationship at best. The committee's investigations of Trump raised the ire of the president who recently called Cummings' district in Baltimore a "rodent-infested mess."

Murtaugh tweeted that "at times like this you put "differences aside." Speaking for the Trump campaign, Murtaugh expressed condolences to Cummings' family and friends.


8 a.m.

Politicians are sharing their thoughts on the death of Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Maryland Democrat whose House committee is investigating President Donald Trump.

House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn said Cummings' "calm but firm hand will be missed on the Oversight Committee as it proceeds with the difficult work ahead."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Cummings a "dedicated public servant." And Sen. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, said Cummings "stood as a symbol for the heights one could reach if they paid no mind to obstacles, naysayers and hate."

Maryland Senate President Mike Miller called Cummings an icon and one of the people he most admired in Maryland politics.

And Baltimore Mayor Jack Young says Cummings was a gifted social justice crusader. The mayor said Cummings wasn't afraid to speak out "against brutal dictators bent on oppression, unscrupulous business executives who took advantage of unsuspecting customers, or even a U.S. President. He was, put simply, a man of God who never forgot his duty to fight for the rights and dignity of the marginalized and often forgotten."


6:30 a.m.

The death of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings early Thursday has made a widow of Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the chair of Maryland's Democratic Party.

She released a statement, calling her husband "an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility."

She says Cummings "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."

She says "It has been an honor to walk by his side on this incredible journey. I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly."


5:30 a.m.

Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings died early Thursday at Johns Hopkins Hospital due to complications from longstanding health challenges, his congressional office said. He was 68.

A sharecropper's son, Cummings became the powerful chairman of a U.S. House committee that investigated President Donald Trump, and was a formidable orator who passionately advocated for the poor in his district that encompassed a large portion of Baltimore.

As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings led multiple investigations into Trump's governmental dealings. The investigations angered the president, who criticized the congressman's district in 2019 as a "rodent-infested mess" where "no human being would want to live."

Cummings responded that government officials must stop making "hateful, incendiary comments" that only serve to divide and distract the nation from its real problems.