Memorial services to honor Rep. Elijah Cummings began Thursday and will continue with a high-profile set of speakers — including former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton — at a funeral in Baltimore on Friday.
Cummings, the Maryland Democrat who chaired the powerful House Committee on Oversight and Reform and was known as a staunch defender of voting rights, died at 68 last week. His body lay in state in the US Capitol Thursday for public viewing after a morning congressional memorial service.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former NAACP leader and Maryland lawmaker Kweisi Mfume will also speak at Cummings’s funeral, which will be held at New Psalmist Baptist Church, where Cummings worshiped. The funeral will be streamed on C-SPAN starting at 10 am.
Cummings died at Gilchrist Hospice Care — an affiliate of Johns Hopkins Medicine — October 17, according to the Baltimore Sun. The Maryland Democrat had not returned to the Capitol after undergoing a medical procedure in September, but had remained active in committee work, sending out subpoenas throughout October. The severity of his condition was not public knowledge.
His death comes amid the oversight committee’s impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. The committee has been engaged in a years-long investigation into the Trump administration that escalated in September, amid reports that the Trump administration withheld military aid to Ukrainian to pressure the foreign leaders to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son.
Cummings was the subject of Trump’s ire over the summer; Trump called him a “brutal bully” and derided Cummings’s Baltimore district as the “worst in the USA,” a “rat and rodent infested mess,” and a “dangerous & filthy place.” Upon his death, the president tweeted that Cummings was a “highly respected political leader.”
“In the House, Elijah was our North Star. He was 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,” Pelosi said in a statement. “His principled leadership as Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform was the perfect testament to his commitment to restoring honesty and honor to government, and leaves a powerful legacy for years to come.”
Obama’s spokesperson confirmed on Twitter that Cummings’s widow, and chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, requested the former president deliver remarks Friday. Obama released a statement last week saying Cummings “stood tallest and most resolute when our country needed him most.”
“As Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, he showed us all not only the importance of checks and balances within our democracy, but also the necessity of good people stewarding it,” Obama said in a statement. “Steely yet compassionate, principled yet open to new perspectives, Chairman Cummings remained steadfast in his pursuit of truth, justice, and reconciliation. 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.”
Cummings was an early supporter of Obama’s presidential candidacy in 2008.
Here’s how the lawmaker is being memorialized.
Thursday: lying in state at the Capitol
After a morning congressional memorial service, Cummings’s body lay in state at the US Capitol, and the area was opened up to the public later in the day.
Where: US Capitol, Washington, DC
When: The ceremony began at 11 am ET, and viewing is open to the public from 1 pm until 7 pm.
Online: The memorial service was streamed on C-SPAN.
Friday: memorial service in Baltimore with eulogies from Barack Obama, the Clintons, and others
Cummings’s memorial service is scheduled at New Psalmist Baptist Church, where Cummings worshiped. Several members of Cummings’s family, including his widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, his daughters, Jennifer and Adia Cummings, and his brother, James, will be in attendance and expected to speak. Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton are among those expected to deliver eulogies.
Where: New Psalmist Baptist Church, Baltimore, Maryland
When: 10 am ET
Online: A livestream of the memorial service will be available on C-SPAN.