Lawmakers, public pay respects to Elijah Cummings in Capitol ceremony

The late Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., was honored by colleagues on both sides of the aisle Thursday as his casket lies in state at the Capitol ahead of funeral services in Baltimore.

“Elijah was truly a master of the House,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “I have called him our North Star, our guide to a better future for our children.”

Pelosi spoke at a Capitol Hill ceremony before his casket was moved to Statuary Hall where the public will be able to pay their respects.

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Cummings died last Thursday at the age of 68 after complications from longstanding health problems.

The long-serving and powerful lawmaker was the chairman of the House Oversight Committee and was integral in the ongoing impeachment efforts against President Trump. A sharecropper's son, Cummings was highly regarded as a leading civil rights advocate. He served as the congressman for Maryland's Seventh District since 1996.

Democrats and Republicans alike honored Cummings for his character and record.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Cummings "did not just represent Baltimore, he embodied it," recalling how Cummings went back to his hometown every night when the city faced unrest in 2015.

"Elijah Cummings never forgot where he came from," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said, "and never lost sight of where he wanted his country to go."

GOP Rep. Mark Meadows mourned the loss of his friend from across the aisle.

"Perhaps this place and this country would be better served with a few more unexpected friendships," he said. "I know I've been blessed by one."

As a tribute to Cummings, no votes are scheduled Thursday in the House.

The public is able to pay their respects Thursday between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.

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Cummings' casket will rest atop a wooden "catafalque," which has often been used for state funerals and was first used for President Abraham Lincoln.

Cummings' funeral service will take place Friday in Baltimore, and will feature addresses from speakers including Cummings’ wife, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.