Obama: Cummings showed us 'the importance of checks and balances'
© Greg Nash

Former President Obama said Thursday morning that he and his wife Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaBudowsky: A Biden-Michelle Obama ticket in 2020? Bloomberg threatens to shake up 2020 primary The Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg looks to upend Democratic race MORE are "heartbroken" over the death of Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBrindisi, Lamb recommended for Armed Services, Transportation Committees Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Elijah Cummings's widow, will run for his House seat Former NAACP president to run for Cummings's House seat MORE (D-Md.).

In a statement shortly after news of the congressman's death broke, the former president said that Cummings's tenure as chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee showed the importance of "good people" overseeing the nation's system of checks and balances.

"Michelle and I are heartbroken over the passing of our friend, Elijah Cummings," the former president wrote. "As Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, he showed us all not only the importance of checks and balances within our democracy, but also the necessity of good people stewarding it."

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"Steely yet compassionate, principled yet open to new perspectives, Chairman Cummings remained steadfast in his pursuit of truth, justice, and reconciliation. It’s a tribute to his native Baltimore that one of its own brought such character, tact, and resolve into the halls of power every day," he added.

Cummings, a longtime congressman from Baltimore and civil rights leader, died "due to complications concerning longstanding health challenges," his office said, though further details were not immediately available.

Obama joined a long list of current and former Washington figures mourning Cummings, including the Oversight panel's ranking member, Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsDemocrats seize on new evidence in first public impeachment hearing House Republicans call impeachment hearing 'boring,' dismiss Taylor testimony as hearsay Key takeaways from first public impeachment hearing MORE (R-N.C.), a friend of the late congressman.

"There was no stronger advocate and no better friend than Elijah Cummings. I am heartbroken for his wonderful family and staff—please pray for them. I will miss him dearly," Meadows tweeted.