BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Representative Elijah Cummings died early Thursday morning at the Gilchrist Hospice Care, a Johns Hopkins affiliate, according to his office.

He was 68.

He died at 2:45 a.m due to complications from longstanding health challenges.

Cummings had represented Maryland’s 7th congressional district since 1996 when he won a special election.

In January he became chair of the House Oversight Committee, and was currently a key figure in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, as the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

He also led multiple investigations into the president’s governmental dealings, including probes in 2019 relating to the president’s family members serving in the White House.

Trump responded by criticizing the Democrat’s district as a “rodent-infested mess” where “no human being would want to live,”

The comments came just weeks after the president drew bipartisan condemnation following his calls for Democratic congresswoman of color to get out of the U.S. “right now” and go back to their “broken and crime infested countries,”

Cummings replied that government officials must stop making “hateful, incendiary comments” that only serve to divide and distract the nation from its real problems, including mass shootings and white supremacy.

“Those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior,” Cummings said in a speech at the National Press Club.

The president called Cummings a “highly respected political leader” in a tweet Thursday morning after his death was announced.

In addition to his law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law, Cummings received 12 honorary degrees.

His career spanned decades in Maryland and national politics. He rose up from the Maryland House of Delegates before he later won his congressional seat in a special election in 1996 to replace former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who had left the seat to lead the NAACP.

His wife, Maryland Democratic Party Chair Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, said he worked until his last breath.

“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,” she said. It’s been an honor to walk by his side on this incredible journey. I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly.”

MORE: What Happens Next To Fill Cummings’ Seat?

“Rest easy, Congressman. We love you and will draw strength by remembering your selfless acts of service and dedication to pursuing equality and basic human rights for all people,” Baltimore Mayor Jack Young’s statement said in part.

Senate President Mike Miller quoted Cummings saying “Public service is the rent we pay for space on this Earth.”

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