Late Rep. Elijah Cummings hailed as 'North Star' for Democrats

WASHINGTON — The late Rep. Elijah Cummings was hailed as the "North Star" for fellow House Democrats as congressional leaders and colleagues paid tribute to him at a Capitol ceremony Thursday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., a close personal and political ally, also said that "Elijah was truly a master of the House."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., recalled Cummings' efforts to calm his native Baltimore amid violent 2015 protests following the death of a black man, Freddie Gray, in police custody. Cummings' involvement, taking to the streets with a bullhorn, helped quiet the disturbances.

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 24: The flag-draped casket of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) is seen as the late congressman lies in state during a memorial service at the Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol October 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. Rep. Cummings

By day, Cummings was at the Capitol in the halls of power, McConnell said, but at night he returned Baltimore to encourage unity.

"Let's go home. Let's all go home," McConnell recalled Cummings saying at the time. "Now our distinguished colleague truly has gone home."

Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 11, 2019, following a House vote to allow committees to enforce their subpoenas thro

The public was to have the chance to pay respects to Cummings later Thursday in Statuary Hall.

Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, died Oct. 17 after complications from long-standing health problems. A wake and funeral are planned Friday in Baltimore.

A sharecropper's son, Cummings rose to become a civil rights champion and a leader of an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

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