Elijah Cummings to 'lie in state' in Capitol's Statuary Hall in new arrangement

Elijah Cummings to 'lie in state' in Capitol's Statuary Hall in new arrangement

October 22, 2019

Remembering Elijah Cummings

Cummings passed away at 68 due to longstanding health complications.

CAPITOL HILL – The late Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., will “lie in state” this Thursday in Statuary Hall of the Capitol ahead of his funeral in Baltimore on Friday, officials announced.

Lawmakers from both parties are set to speak in remembrance of the House Oversight Committee chairman at a Statuary Hall arrival ceremony Thursday morning, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C.

In addition, a public viewing has been scheduled for this Wednesday at Morgan State University in Baltimore; the congressman had served on the university's Board of Regents.

Cummings, a longtime congressman, civil rights leader and frequent foe of President Trump, died last Thursday at the age of 68 after complications from longstanding health problems.

The concept of having a decedent “lie in state” in Statuary Hall, the old House chamber, is new in Congress.

The Capitol Rotunda, located in the middle of the U.S. Capitol, and controlled by both the House and Senate, has been used periodically for major American figures to “lie in state.” Such was the case with the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and President George H.W. Bush in 2018, along with the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, in 2012. The late Rev. Billy Graham “laid in honor” in the Capitol Rotunda in early 2018. “Lying in honor” is considered one level below “lying in state.”

Both the House and Senate have held various memorials for fallen members over the years. The late Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., laid “in repose” in a flag-draped casket in the Senate chamber in 2010. The body of late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., also laid “in repose” in the Senate after he died in 2013.

Granted, the House has conducted various memorial services for former members in Statuary Hall over the years. Some of the most recent included former House Speaker Tom Foley, D-Wash., in 2013, former Rep. Mark Takai, D-Hawaii, in 2016, former House Minority Leader Bob Michel, R-Ill., in 2017 and former Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., the following year.

However, bringing a casket into Statuary Hall for a service is a bit different. The closest modern models appeared to be what the Senate did with Byrd and Lautenberg. Though Cummings is to “lie in state,” his casket will reside neither in the Rotunda nor in the House chamber, officials have said. Usage of the Capitol Rotunda would require the adoption of a joint resolution by both the House and Senate, but since this service is scheduled to take place in a space controlled by the House, only the House must sign off on usage of Statuary Hall. However, Pelosi has chosen the designation of “lie in state” for Cummings.

The Senate on Monday approved a joint resolution, with the House expected to follow suit, for use of the catafalque for Cummings’ services in Statuary Hall. The catafalque is a wooden platform first used at the Capitol when President Lincoln lay in state, with his casket resting on top of it. The catafalque has has been used for most “state funerals” since.

Fox News' Mike Arroyo contributed to this report.

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