WASHINGTON — Reactions poured in from Capitol Hill following the death of Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Maryland Democrat who served as chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee - and who became known in recent years for his forceful opposition of President Donald Trump.
PHOTO GALLERY: See images of Cummings through the years in a gallery at the end of this story
The son of South Carolina sharecroppers, Cummings was an attorney and a civil rights advocate before entering what would ultimately be a nearly 40-year career in public service - first in the Maryland House of Delegates and later the U.S. House of Representatives. Over the decades, he earned a reputation for being formidable but also kind and compassionate. While Cummings was revered by his fellow Democrats, many Washington Republicans spoke out with condolences and an admiration of Cummings.
"Chairman Elijah E. Cummings and I shared a city, an alma mater, a love of the law and a life of public service," Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said in a statement. "I am deeply saddened by his passing, and my prayers today are with his family and loved ones - and the people of Baltimore.
"The death of Chairman Cummings leaves an irreplaceable void in our hearts, in our Maryland and in our Congress. Quite possibly no elected official mattered so much to his constituents. Chairman Cummings guaranteed a voice to so many who would otherwise not have one, and stood as a symbol for the heights one could reach if they paid no mind to obstacles, naysayers and hate. His commitment to his city and country was unwavering, as will be my lasting respect for him," Cardin said.
"When our nation can ill-afford to lose such a kind, principled leader, one of my dearest friends and mentors has left us," Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said in a statement. "My heart is broken, as I weep personally and for his family and community. Elijah Cummings' unmatched integrity and leadership leaves a remarkable legacy. But I know his struggle for justice and freedom lives on, as so many - like me - stand on his shoulders to carry on his courageous fight. May his memory be for a blessing."
"Our Congress & our country has lost a champion for justice, a fighter for good, an honorable and zealous leader," Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, tweeted.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, R, said in a statement, "We are deeply saddened by the passing of Congressman Elijah Cummings, who was a fierce advocate for civil rights and for Maryland for more than three decades.
"Congressman Cummings leaves behind an incredible legacy of fighting for Baltimore City and working to improve people's lives. He was a passionate and dedicated public servant whose countless contributions made our state and our country better," Hogan said.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., wrote: "At a time of chaos and division, our friend Elijah Cummings stood strong as a man of principle, unity, dignity, and compassion. His insatiable thirst for justice was rooted in his core. Maryland has lost a beloved son and our nation a hero of our times."
Maryland Democratic Party Chair Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Cummings's wife, issued a statement from her office saying: "Congressman Cummings was an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility. 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."
Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young, D, said Cummings's death means the loss of a "powerful voice and one of the strongest and most gifted crusaders for social justice."
"Rep. Cummings, the son of sharecroppers whose ancestors were slaves, wasn't afraid to use his considerable intellect, booming voice, and poetic oratory to speak out against brutal dictators bent on oppression, unscrupulous business executives who took advantage of unsuspecting customers, or even a U.S. President," Young wrote. "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."
The House GOP conference chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., called Cummings's death "a sad day": "Elijah's passion for serving his beloved city was easy to see in everything that he did, and his determination to fight for equality and civil rights will never be forgotten. He was a friend to all and sought to use his position in Congress to bridge divides, not widen them," Cheney said in a statement.
Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., said Cummings "brought out the best in Congress and appealed to our better angels over our worst impulses."
"A Giant of integrity and knowledge has fallen. He defended the Constitution and acted with grace," tweeted Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.
"The country and Congress lost a great man this morning," Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., wrote on Twitter. "May his memory be for a blessing, and his kindness and fierce pursuit of justice inspire a rising generation of public servants."
Joe Scarborough, the former GOP congressman from Florida whose wedding to MSNBC co-host Mika Brzezinski was officiated by Cummings, called the Democratic lawmaker "a good man, a great leader, and a dear friend. We worked closely together in Congress and I was honored that he married Mika and me. Elijah was a member of our family whom we loved. May God bless his own family now in these troubled times."
Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., said Thursday: "Elijah Cummings refused to be told what he could become or where his dreams might end. He refused to accept injustice in his community or inequality in his country. His towering presence will be missed but his legacy will live on with us all."
Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., called Cummings a friend and a "giant of public service" in Congress. "His presence, passion and moral clarity will be missed and my heart goes out to his family and constituents," Nadler said.
"Elijah Cummings was a fighter for Baltimore, our region, and the nation. He never shied away from standing up for that which is right," D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, D, said in a statement.
"The Congressman holds a special place in the hearts of Washingtonians - not only as an alumnus of Howard University, where he served as Student Government President - but for helping us forge ahead on our path to DC Statehood. His work to make every community he touched a better place is one we should all emulate, and we know he will rest in peace and in power," Bowser said.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., issued a lengthy statement, praising Cummings for his commitment to justice and equity throughout his career:
"As the son of sharecroppers, Elijah grew up understanding the challenges of poverty and fought throughout his career in elected office to bring hope and relief to those in need, particularly the youth, in whom he had great faith and was dedicated to empowering and lifting up. A former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, he made voting rights, equality, justice, and access to opportunity hallmarks of his career. He was also committed to ensuring that the next generation of Americans had access to greater opportunity and a better future. As Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, he was the House's crusader for making government work better and holding public officials accountable when they failed the American people. His memory will long guide us in that pursuit."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., called Cummings "a giant." Cummings was "a universally respected leader who brought profound insight, commitment, and moral fortitude to Congress.
"His guidance and vision was an enormous gift. I will forever cherish his example. May he rest in power."
Former Republican National Committee chairman and former lieutenant governor of Maryland Michael Steele tweeted Thursday: "My heart is saddened at the loss of a colleague and friend. Elijah cared deeply about public service and the importance of 'representing your people.' Rest In Peace good and faithful servant."
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., described hearing the news of Cummings' death as being "like a gut punch."
"He was an amazing man," Schumer said during a Thursday morning appearance on MSNBC. "He was not just a great congressman; he was a great man. He had a combination of being strong . . . but also being kind, and decent and caring and honorable."