Payment to Elijah Cummings’ wife continues long-standing tradition

Stopgap spending measure released Monday includes $174,000 to Maya Rockeymoore Cummings

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, widow of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., will receive the death gratuity in the latest stopgap spending measure. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the widow of the late Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, will receive an $174,000 payment as part of a continuing resolution that is expected to keep the government open through Dec. 20.

The personal payment in this latest spending bill continues a long-standing practice of providing a death gratuity for a departed member’s survivors. The gratuity is usually included in the next appropriations bill following a lawmakers's death and is paid to the “next of kin” in the amount of one year’s compensation — $174,000.

The House is expected to vote on the stopgap spending measure Tuesday and the Senate later this week before the current funding bill expires Thursday. White House officials have indicated several times that President Donald Trump supports the bill, though the president himself hasn’t said so.

The families of Louise M. Slaughter and John McCain were each issued the death gratuity in recent years. The fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill included $174,000 to an heir of the late New York Democrat Louise M. Slaughter, the former House Rules chairwoman.

She died just four days before the omnibus bill text was released, but lawmakers ensured that the gift was included in the Legislative Branch spending title. The payment to McCain's family was included in a Sept. 2018 spending package. By statute, a death gratuity is considered a gift.

Rockeymoore Cummings announced last week that she is running for the Democratic nomination to replace her late husband in Maryland’s 7th District. She resigned as chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party before announcing her candidacy.

Only one current member of Congress, California Democratic Rep. Doris Matsui, is a widow who succeeded her spouse, Robert T. Matsui after he died in 2005, shortly after winning a 14th term.

Simone Pathé and Jennifer Shutt contributed to this report.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone.