Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney will step into the national spotlight as acting chair of the powerful House Oversight and Reforms Committee after the sudden death of Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland Thursday morning.
Cummings, 68, oversaw the panel, which is one of three that are currently investigating President Trump in the ongoing House impeachment inquiry.
Maloney, 73, had been the second-ranked Democrat on the committee even though she had seniority over Cummings when he beat her in the Democratic Caucus vote for the leadership role. The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee will meet with potential candidates for the position, including Maloney, in the next few days.
“I’m deeply saddened by the news of Chairman Cummings’ passing. Our nation has not only lost a true leader and pioneer, but I have lost a true friend and mentor,” Maloney said in a statement. “In an era where our politics have been plagued by coarseness and personal attacks, Elijah represented grace, dignity and empathy under the most trying of circumstances. His legacy — his fight for fairness, justice and equality — should be an inspiration to us all. My heart goes out to his family.”
Maloney has represented western Queens and parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn since 1993. She also serves as the vice chair of the Joint Economic Committee.
Cummings was a giant of the nation’s Civil Rights Movement but he died of complications from an ongoing health issue, according to his office.
“He spoke truth to power, defended the disenfranchised and represented West Baltimore with strength and dignity,” Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, the House Democratic caucus chairman said on Twitter. “Congress has lost a Champion. Heaven has gained an Angel of Justice.”
Maloney commented further on Twitter.
“Elijah Cummings was a courageous leader and trailblazer for our nation,” she wrote. “His open. Gracious, fighting spirit will always be an inspiration.”