Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, died Thursday morning at the age of 68 as a result of unspecified health complications, according to the Washington Post.
Cummings had a medical procedure last month and had been expected to return to work this week when the House returned from its two-week recess — but Cummings did not return and missed a couple votes.
That delay followed a previous one last month, when he missed a Sept. 19 committee hearing and said via statement that doctors expected him back at work in a week.
The medical condition Cummings was dealing with has not been disclosed. Cummings' known health issues included a heart surgery in 2017 to replace an aortic valve, a procedure that resulted in an infection that kept him hospitalized for some time. He had been using a wheelchair or a walker to move around recently.
"Congressman Cummings was an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility," his wife, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, said in a statement. "He 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. It's been an honor to walk by his side on this incredible journey. I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly."
Cummings, as the House Oversight chair, had been a key figure in the investigations and impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. The congressman and the president recently feuded publicly over Cummings' role in those probes and over the condition of the city of Baltimore, where Cummings was born and raised.
The Maryland congressman was first elected to the office in 1996, and made a name for himself for his prominent role in high-profile situations such as the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, who died while riding unsecured in a police van, and as a defender of Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi hearings.
Earlier in his career, Cummings was the youngest chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus in the Maryland House of Delegates, and the first African-American to serve as speaker pro tempore. He has also served as the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.