Elijah Cummings' body to lie in state in Statuary Hall at the US Capitol

CNN. com | 10/24/2019, 10:10 a.m.
Congressional leaders will honor the late Rep. Elijah Cummings on Thursday as his body lies in state in National Statuary ...
Rep. Elijah Cummings/Twitter

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 and key figure leading investigations into President Donald Trump, 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.

Cummings appears to be the first African American and African American lawmaker to lie in state in the US Capitol, according to congressional historians.

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.