MARYLAND — U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore has died at the age of 68, ABC News is reporting.
An attorney and former state lawmaker, Cummings was first elected to his seat in 1996. He became committee chairman in January after Democrats won back the House in the 2018 elections.
He began his career of public service in the Maryland House of Delegates, where he served for 14 years and became the first African American in Maryland history to be named Speaker Pro Temp.
[PHOTO: Elijah Cummings through the years]
Cummings has had health issues in recent years. He uses a wheelchair to get around and when he stands, he braces himself with a walker. In 2017, he underwent an aortic valve replacement. The procedure, which aides described as minimally invasive in Cummings' case, is used to correct narrowing of the aortic valve in the heart. The surgery led to an infection that kept him in the hospital longer than expected. He was later hospitalized for a knee infection, but he said this summer that his health was fine.
Cummings did not return to his office as expected this week following a medical procedure.
We're learning more about the impact the congressman had on the country throughout the day on Channel 2 Action News
President Trump most recently spared with Cummings over the summer, calling the lawmaker a racist and Baltimore a "disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess."
Cummings appeared on ABC's "This Week" on July 21, where he told host George Stephanopoulos there was "no doubt" that President Trump was a racist, following the president's attacks on Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib, known as "The Squad."
"I was beaten and all kinds of rocks and bottles thrown at me. And the interesting thing is that I heard the same kind of chant, 'Go home, you don't belong here.' And they called us the N-word over and over and over again," Cummings said, recalling racism he had faced in the past.
"What it does when Trump does these things, it brings up the same feelings that I had over 50 something years ago, and it's very, very painful," Cummings said. "It's extremely divisive and I just don't think this is becoming of the president of the United States of America, the leader of an entire world."
Information from ABC News was used in this report
Cox Media Group