WASHINGTON — Congressional leaders will honor the late Rep. Elijah Cummings on Thursday as his body lies in state in National Statuary Hall in the US Capitol.
Cummings, a longtime Maryland Democrat, died last week at the age of 68. The congressman’s death prompted an outpouring of grief from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
Lying in state is a tribute reserved for government officials and military officers, while lying in honor is a distinction given to private citizens. Two African Americans have lain in honor: civil rights icon Rosa Parks and Officer Jacob J. Chestnut Jr., a Capitol Police officer killed in the line of duty.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office announced last week that Cummings’ body will lie in state with a formal ceremony to take place on Thursday morning. Congressional lawmakers, members of the Cummings family and invited guests will be permitted to attend. There will also be a public viewing later in the day.
A formal arrival ceremony will start at 11 a.m. ET in Statuary Hall, where Pelosi, a California Democrat, will be joined by members of congressional leadership, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York, along with other lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, according to a release from the speaker’s office.
Statuary Hall is an expansive room that houses a collection of statutes contributed by individual states to honor prominent individuals in their history.
A wreath laying by members of congressional leadership will take place during the ceremony. There will also be a performance by the choir for Baltimore’s Morgan State University, where Cummings served as a member of the board of regents.
Members of the public will be permitted to pay respects to the late congressman from 1 to 7 p.m. ET.
A public viewing and celebration in honor of Cummings were also held Wednesday at Morgan State.
Pelosi appeared visibly emotional last Thursday as she paid tribute to Cummings after his death.
“In the Congress, Elijah was considered a north star,” Pelosi said. “He was a leader of towering character and integrity. He lived the American dream. ”
Cummings was born and raised in Baltimore, the city that is home to his district. The son of former sharecroppers was born in 1951.
He practiced law and served for 14 years in the Maryland House of Delegates, where he became the first African American in Maryland history to be named speaker pro tem, according to his congressional website.
He had represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District since 1996 and served as the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, one of the panels involved in the Trump impeachment inquiry.
In that role, Cummings oversaw a range of investigations into the administration, from issues relating to the impeachment inquiry to the treatment of migrants at the southern border.
As he led the investigative efforts, Cummings clashed publicly with the President. But despite being an outspoken and passionate defender of Democratic causes in Congress, Cummings fostered strong relationships with Republicans across Capitol Hill.
House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of California spoke in honor of the late congressman last week on the House floor, saying, “Chairman Cummings had an enormous presence.”
“Every time we spoke of selecting an individual who can rise to the occasion to be in debate with him, we would look for somebody who was strong, and every time someone was selected, they’d come back to be a very best friend of Elijah Cummings,” McCarthy said.
Cummings, who grew up during the civil rights movement, became a leading voice among African American lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
“He spoke truth to power, defended the disenfranchised and represented West Baltimore with strength and dignity,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the House Democratic Caucus chairman and a fellow member of the Congressional Black Caucus, tweeted last week. “Congress has lost a Champion. Heaven has gained an Angel of Justice. May he forever #RestInPower.”
The Baltimore Sun has reported that a funeral for Cummings will be held in Baltimore on Friday at New Psalmist Baptist Church, citing a spokeswoman for the church.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are expected to speak at the service, their offices tell CNN.