elijah cummings

Rep. Elijah Cummings served in Congress from 1996 until his death Thursday. Political leaders from across Iowa and the country offered their condolences to his family.

Civil rights activist and long-serving Congressman Elijah Cummings died early Thursday at the age of 68.

A native of Baltimore, Cummings represented parts of the city in Congress for more than 20 years.

Cummings was born the son of sharecroppers, graduating from Howard University and then the University of Maryland School of Law. He was the first African American to serve as Maryland’s speaker pro tempore, the second highest position in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Actions to honor Cummings have taken place across the United States.

Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered all flags in the state of Iowa be lowered to half-staff "in honor and remembrance" of Cummings.

Cummings served as Chairman of the House Oversight Committee. Several of his colleagues from Iowa issued laudatory statements following the news of his death.

“Elijah Cummings was a fearless fighter for justice & equality,” said Rep. Cindy Axne in a tweet. “A dignified statesman and a man of faith, Elijah Cummings was a powerful voice of conscience and stability. His leadership, passion and patriotism will be sorely missed in the halls of Congress and across the country.”

Rep. Dave Loebsack, who served in the House for more than a decade alongside Cummings, said in a tweet his thoughts are with Cummings' family, friends and the people of Maryland “in this difficult time.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, currently the president pro tempore of the United States Senate, has served in Congress the entirety of Cummings’ time in the House.

“[With] the passing of Congressman Cummings I lost a colleague who played a very prominent role in the constitutional responsibility of congressional oversight to make sure checks [and] balances of our [government] work,” Grassley said in a tweet. “He will be missed [and] I send condolences to his family.”

Sen. Joni Ernst, the other U.S. senator serving Iowa, also offered her condolences to his family in a tweet.

“Elijah Cummings was a dedicated public servant who was fiercely committed to his district and country,” Ernst said. “My condolences are with his family, friends, and the people of his district during this difficult time.”

Cummings’ influence on American politics went beyond Congress, with retired officials also offering tributes.

“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,” said former President Barack Obama in a statement. “And true to the giants of progress he followed into public service, Chairman Cummings stood tallest and most resolute when our country needed him the most.”

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