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CUMMINGS, Elijah Eugene

CUMMINGS, Elijah Eugene
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
1951–2019

Biography

Elijah E. Cummings, the son of South Carolina sharecroppers who moved to Baltimore for a better life for their children, won election to the U.S. House in 1996, beginning what would become a celebrated 23-year career in Congress. Cummings, an influential and well-respected Representative who rose to become chair of the Oversight and Reform Committee in 2019, spent his career advocating for policies to help poor and working-class Americans, especially poor and working-class Black constituents in his hometown of Baltimore. “The true measure of our union,” he once proclaimed from the House Floor, “is the state of the least among us.” Cummings believed the government should play a vital role in helping people. “We, as leaders,” he explained in an interview toward the end of his life, “have a duty and a responsibility to keep our promise to them when we ran for office and won—and that is to make their lives better. While we’re all on this earth, that’s my message.”1

Elijah Eugene Cummings was born on January 18, 1951, in Baltimore, Maryland. He was one of seven children born to Robert, a chemical plant worker, and Ruth Cummings, a domestic worker and preacher. Cummings’s parents had left their home in South Carolina for the opportunities found in the booming economy of post-World War II Baltimore. Religion and education were paramount in the Cummings’ household. “My father . . . he told us, ‘If you miss one day of school that meant you died the night before.’ And he meant that. I did not miss one second of school between kindergarten and graduating from high school.” His mother, meanwhile, held prayer meetings in the basement of their house that she soon expanded into her own church.2

In 1962, at age 11, Elijah Cummings participated in a demonstration to desegregate a local whites-only public pool. The protest was led by Juanita Jackson Mitchell, an accomplished civil rights activist, lawyer, and sister-in-law of future Representative Parren J. Mitchell, the first Black Representative from Maryland. As Cummings and two-dozen peers jumped into the pool, a large crowd of angry white counter protesters spouted insults and hurled rocks and bottles at the children. The experience had a profound effect on Cummings and combined with the inspiration of Jackson Mitchell’s leadership, Cummings remembered that “at 11 years old, I declared in that moment that I was going to be become a lawyer.”3

Cummings graduated from Baltimore City College, a selective Baltimore high school, in 1969 and went to Howard University, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1972. At Howard, Cummings served as sophomore class president and as the student government president. In 1976, Cummings earned a law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law and founded a law firm in Baltimore. He worked at his practice for two decades until his election to Congress. Cummings first entered public office when he won election to the Maryland house of delegates in 1982. For 14 years, he represented a predominantly Black district in southwestern Baltimore. He served as vice chairman of both the constitutional and administrative law committee, and the economic matters committee. Cummings was twice married and had three children.4

In the state legislature, Cummings chaired the Black caucus and eventually became the first African American in Maryland history to be named speaker pro tempore—the house of delegates’ second-highest position. Cummings was an advocate for Black Marylanders and for investments in Baltimore. He helped establish and then served as chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Black Males, which focused on ways the state of Maryland could help alleviate high rates of “unemployment, arrest, AIDS infection and school failure among young black men.” Cummings also worked to improve affirmative action programs in state agencies and private companies. “We are not asking anything that business does not already do for other communities,” Cummings said of one venture between the Maryland assembly’s Black caucus and private businesses. “We are just asking them to spread the wealth into our constituencies.” During his time in the assembly, Cummings also supported needle-exchange programs in Baltimore, passed tax reforms to assist Marylanders living in poverty, and was a strong supporter of gun-control laws.5

When five-term Representative Kweisi Mfume of Maryland resigned his seat in the House to become chief executive officer of NAACP in February 1996, Cummings entered the race to succeed him. Mfume’s crescent-shaped Baltimore district encompassed poor and affluent areas in the city center, Black communities on the west side, and the working and middle-class towns of Catonsville and Randallstown. The district was overwhelmingly Democratic and about 70 percent of its voters were African American. Cummings’s status in the house of delegates, his ties to the community, key endorsements from local politicians, and the support of the Baltimore Sun and the Baltimore Afro-American, made Cummings the favorite in the crowded 26-candidate field. He won the primary with 37 percent of the vote, defeating his closest competitor by 13 points. He easily defeated Republican Kenneth Kondner in the April 16 special election, garnering 81 percent of the vote. Cummings later said that he hoped “to be the voice of those people who put their faith and trust in me. Hopefully, I will build a record . . . that reflects that goal.” Even after redistricting twice expanded Cummings districts into whiter, more middle-class Howard and Baltimore counties, to account for the declining population of Baltimore City, Cummings maintained a firm grip on his largely Democratic district, consistently winning more than 70 percent of the vote.6

After Cummings was sworn into office in April 1996, he was assigned to the Government Reform and Oversight Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He remained on both panels for his entire career. Cummings also served on the Committee on Armed Services during the 110th Congress (2007–2009) and on the Joint Economic Committee from the 109th through the 113th Congresses (2005–2013). During the 110th and 111th Congresses (2007–2011), Cummings served as the chair of Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. From 2014 to 2016, he served as the ranking minority member on the Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Attack in Benghazi. In the 116th Congress (2019–2021), Cummings became the chair of the Oversight and Reform Committee. He also served as the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) during the 108th Congress (2003–2005).

From his seat on the Subcommittee on the Civil Service of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee, Cummings pushed for legislation that would aid federal workers, a significant constituency in his district, many of whom commuted to work in Washington, DC. “Public service work can sometimes be difficult,” he said, “but regardless of the circumstances, these hardworking individuals are committed to doing excellent work and to making a major difference.” Two of Cummings’s most significant legislative victories early in his career were bills that expanded federal employees’ healthcare coverage and provided more leave time for federal employees who were organ donors.7

Cummings also sought to protect and expand policies that supported the employment of minorities in the federal government and with federal contractors. Early in his career on the Subcommittee on the Civil Service, Cummings convinced subcommittee chair Republican John L. Mica of Florida to hold a hearing on discrimination in the federal workplace. As Cummings explained in his opening remarks during the hearing: “[T]here appears to be abundant evidence that people of color and other minorities are being subjected to verbal and psychological abuse, unfairly evaluated and denied opportunities for advancement throughout the Federal work force.” Cummings was especially concerned about a backlog of cases at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. During his career, Cummings repeatedly introduced legislation to strengthen equal employment regulations and protect federal employees from discrimination. Three of his anti-discrimination bills passed the House but died in the Senate.8

Cummings’s seat on the Government Reform and Oversight Committee enabled him to work to combat drug addiction and crime caused by the illegal drug trade in Baltimore. Cummings advocated for a drug policy that balanced criminal prosecution with effective counseling and rehabilitation programs. “We want to make sure that those people who find themselves in the clutches of drug addiction are able to depend upon treatment that can best help them.” From his seat on the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources, Cummings worked closely with the Republican subcommittee chair Mark Edward Souder of Indiana to pass the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 2006. Included in the legislation was the Dawson Family Act which Cummings had earlier sponsored as a stand-alone bill. Cummings proposed the Dawson Family Act after seven members of the Dawson family—including five children—were killed when their house was firebombed. The perpetrator targeted the Dawson family because a member of the family had informed the police about drug trafficking in their neighborhood. The Dawson Family Act directed High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program funds to support local programs that aimed to protect witnesses like Angela and Carnell Dawson.9

In the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Cummings advocated for highway, harbor, and public transportation projects in Baltimore. Early in his career Cummings, steered more than $30 million in highway funds to his district. He also sought more funding for mass transit, including Amtrak and a light rail line planned for West Baltimore but which was never built. To promote the employment of African Americans and other minorities, Cummings worked to direct federal infrastructure contracts to Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) which were owned by entrepreneurs of color, women, or other disadvantaged small businessowners. “As we rebuild America from the pavement up,” Cummings said, “it is critical that every American has the opportunity to help in that effort.”10

When he served as chair of the Subcommittee on Coastguard and Maritime Transportation during the 110th and 111th Congresses, Cummings led the passage of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010. As subcommittee chair, Cummings also sought ways to increase the recruitment of minorities into the Coast Guard. He held hearings on the matter and co-sponsored legislation to increase the diversity at the Coast Guard Academy. The act passed the House but was removed from a larger Coast Guard funding bill in the Senate. As chair, Cummings also successfully worked to modernize the Coast Guard’s procurement practices after problems arose with the construction of new ships for the fleet.11

As chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) during the 108th Congress (2003–2005), Cummings advocated for policies to help poor and working-class Americans and often confronted the George W. Bush administration over policies he opposed. In 2003, Cummings publicly turned down an invitation from President Bush to attend a meeting with the CBC. It was Cummings’s response to the fact that Bush had earlier ignored several requests to meet with the caucus. “I would not necessarily call it a protest. It’s a call for respect,” he said. Later that year, Cummings led the CBC in opposition to new funding for the Iraq War. Eventually four members of the CBC voted in favor of the funding, but Cummings won plaudits for his efforts to keep the 39-member caucus unified. “This is the first time in our history when we’ve had such opposing opinions, but it reflects black Americans in general,” Cummings said.12

During the financial crisis and the Great Recession in the late 2000s, Cummings, from his position on Oversight, was a vocal critic of companies that he believed had abused federal bailout funding. Cummings supported the passage of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which included the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), but he was critical of policies that he said favored the banking industry and did little to prevent foreclosures. In 2009, Cummings initiated a letter signed by 26 other lawmakers demanding an audit of TARP payments made to an insurance and banking company at the center of the 2008 financial crisis amid suspicions the company had used federal rescue money to offer bonuses to executives. The letter resulted in an eight-month audit and the formation of an investigatory subcommittee in 2011 by the new Republican Oversight chair, Darrell Issa of California.13

Cummings also sought to help ease the foreclosure crisis at the heart of the recession, calling it a “wrecking ball smashing through communities across the nation.” Between 2008 and 2010, 11,000 mortgages in Baltimore went into foreclosure. Moreover, the Justice Department alleged that a mortgage lender participated in discriminatory lending practices with Black and Latino homeowners in the Washington, DC-Baltimore region. The bank eventually settled with the Justice Department for $175 million. In 2010, Cummings helped write legislation creating the Emergency Homeowner’s Loan Program (EHLP) which was passed as part of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The EHLP program provided “bridge loans” through the Department of Housing and Urban Development to homeowners struggling to pay their mortgage. And from his position on the Oversight Committee, Cummings pressured federal agencies to use TARP funds to reduce the principle on mortgage holder’s outstanding debt. Cummings also frequently held foreclosure prevention seminars in his district that connected his constituents seeking mortgage help with advisors and lenders.14

Baltimore and especially its poor and working-class Black residents were always at the forefront of Cummings’s congressional work. “I don’t live in the inner city,” he said. “I live in the inner-inner city and there are not a lot of congressmen who grew up in the inner city, let alone still live there. It is an important voice to bring to Congress that needs to be heard.” In April 2015, Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Black man from Baltimore, died from injuries he suffered while in police custody. Demonstrations and protests followed, and on multiple occasions civil unrest, arson, and looting broke out in the city. Cummings was ever present in Baltimore during the crisis, working to bring peace; he walked the streets with a bullhorn reassuring residents and calling for people to return to their homes. At Gray’s funeral, Cummings put words to the pain felt by mourners across the city. “I’ve often said that our children are the living messages we send to the future we will never see, but now, our children are sending us to a future they will never see. There is something wrong with that picture.”15

In 2011, House Democrats promoted Elijah Cummings to ranking minority member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Cummings had been third in line in Democratic seniority behind New York Representatives Edolphus Towns, the chair of the committee during the previous Congress, and Carolyn Bosher Maloney. But Democratic House leadership believed Cummings was better suited to defend the Barack Obama administration against investigations pursued by the new Republican House majority. “I come from a tough place,” Cummings reportedly told his fellow Democrats, and promised not to be outworked. While ranking minority member, Cummings led Democratic opposition to high-profile investigations into the Internal Revenue Service, the Justice Department, and the 2012 Benghazi, Libya, terrorist attack that killed four Americans. When Republicans created the Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Attack in Benghazi in 2014, Cummings served as its ranking minority member as well.16

Oversight hearings during this period were often combative. At one point, Republicans cut off Cummings’s microphone mid-statement. With his booming voice, Cummings continued his remarks, shouting to the committee chair Darrell Issa and other Republicans a variation of one of his oft-used quotes: “We’re better than that as a country. We’re better than that as a committee.” Cummings was also willing to push back. On one occasion, his office authored a report that compared Republican investigations into the IRS to the anti-Communist hearings held by Senator Joseph Raymond McCarthy in the 1950s.17

Despite the rancor found in the committee room, Cummings was often able to work with leading Republicans on the committee. Shortly before Jason Chaffetz of Utah became Oversight chair in 2015, he and Cummings scheduled trips to visit each other’s districts in hopes of better understanding of the issues their constituents faced. “I always try to concentrate on not so much on who I’m fighting against, but what I’m fighting for,” Cummings explained after Chaffetz visited Baltimore. “If I can help somebody understand what I’m fighting for, maybe compromise becomes a little easier.” Other Republicans on the committee respected Cummings for the sincerity of his convictions. As Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, the Oversight chair for the 115th Congress (2017–2019), said about Cummings: “It’s not about politics to him; he says what he believes . . . you can tell the ones who it’s coming from their soul. And with Mr. Cummings, its coming from his soul.”18

After Democrats regained control of the House in January 2019, Cummings was elected chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform. It was an especially high-profile position as Democrats expected the committee to investigate various aspects of President Donald J. Trump’s administration. Cummings’s Oversight Committee held hearings on the Trump administration’s immigration policy, the Commerce Department’s development of the 2020 Census, the political activities of federal employees, and President Trump’s alleged financial improprieties. Cummings argued the committee had a “duty to serve as an independent check on the executive branch.”19

As Oversight chair, Cummings led investigations into issues he had spent his career working on, including the pharmaceutical industry and the cost of prescription medicine. “We have seen time after time that drug companies make money hand over fist by raising the prices of their drugs, often without justification, and sometimes overnight, while patients are left holding the bill,” he said. The committee eventually released a report that included the recommendation that the House pass the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which the full House did in December 2019.20

Cummings also led the Oversight Committee in support of strengthening voting rights. “I believe that we should be doing everything in our power to make it easier for eligible American citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” Cummings explained at an Oversight hearing for H.R. 1, a voting rights bill, that was one of the top priorities for House Democrats in the 116th Congress. Under his leadership the committee also began investigations into alleged voter suppression in at least three states.21

Cummings had been sick for several years by the time he became Oversight chair. In 2017, he spent two months in the hospital recovering from heart surgery, then soon after he contracted an infection from a knee surgery that led to three more months of recovery. Despite his difficult ailments he continued to work, signing paperwork for the first impeachment of President Donald J. Trump just days before he passed away. Elijah Cummings died on October 17, 2019, from “complications concerning longstanding health challenges.” On October 24, 2019, Cummings lay in state in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall; he was the first Black Member to be given that honor. In February 2020, House Democratic leadership honored Cummings by renaming the Oversight and Reform Committee hearing room in the Rayburn House Office Building, the Elijah E. Cummings Room.22

Footnotes

1Congressional Record, House, 108th Cong., 2nd sess. (20 January 2004): 73; Sheryl Gay Stolberg and David Stout “Elijah Cummings, ‘North Star’ for House Democrats, Dies at 68,” 18 October 2019, New York Times: A1.

2“Elijah E. Cummings,” Contemporary Black Biography, vol. 24 (Gale Group, 2000); Stolberg and Stout, “Elijah Cummings, ‘North Star’ for House Democrats”; “Elijah Cummings: The 2019 60 Minutes Interview,” 17 October 2019, 60 Minutes, CBS, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/elijah-cummings-the-2019-60-minutes-interview-2019-10-17/; Frederick N. Rasmussen, “Ruth Cummings Mother of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings and Founder of Victory Prayer Chapel Dies,” 7 February 2018, Baltimore Sun, https://www.baltimoresun.com/obituaries/bs-md-ob-20180207-story.html.

3Gillian Brockell, “A White Mob Attacked Elijah Cummings for Integrating a Swimming Pool. He was 11,” 17 October 2019, Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2019/10/17/white-mob-attacked-elijah-cummings-integrating-swimming-pool-he-was/; “Child Injured as Baltimore Mob Attacks Negro Boys Leaving Pool,” 25 August 1962, Washington Post: C5.

4“Biography,” official website of Representative Elijah E. Cummings, 28 October 2007, https://web.archive.org/web/20071201143430/http://www.house.gov/cummings/bio_print.htm; Jenna Portnoy, “Elijah Cummings, Baltimore Congressman and Civil Rights Leader, Dies at 68,” 17 October 2019, Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/10/17/elijah-cummings-dies-baltimore/.

5Stolberg and Stout “Elijah Cummings, Powerful Democrat Who Investigated Trump, Dies at 68”; Paul W. Valentine and Richard Tapscott, “Md. Panel Issues Report on Plight of Black Males,” 7 July 1993, Washington Post: D2; Michael McQueen, “Bills on Minority Contracts Provoke Shouting,” 27 January 1984, Washington Post: B4; Ted Shelsby, “Bill Seeks Larger Role for Blacks,” 27 June 1984, Baltimore Sun: B7; Michael K. Burns, “Black Legislators, Maryland Business Join Hands in Roundtable,” 22 February 1987, Baltimore Sun: 1E; “Maryland Town Meeting: Thriving in Maryland,” 21 June 1994, Wall Street Journal: 25; A.B. Stoddard, “Re-Elect Cummings, to be Sworn in Thursday, Says he Overcame Fear of Change to Seek Seat,” 24 April 1996, The Hill: n.p.; “Down to the Wire in the 7th; Cummings’ Tenacity: He knows When to Compromise and When to Speak Out,” 4 March 1996, Baltimore Sun: 6A.

6In 2002, the Black population in Cummings’s district was about 60 percent and by 2019 the Black population in the district was about 52 percent. “Success Amid Unfulfilled Ambitions; Elijah Cummings: With No Serious Challenger, Congressman Must Decide What to Make of Future,” 9 October 2000, Baltimore Sun: 14A; Maryland department of planning, “2000 Summary File One – Maryland Population Characteristics, Maryland Congressional District (SB805), May 6, 2002, Congressional District 7,” August 2002, https://planning.maryland.gov/MSDC/Documents/redist/congd02/Cong02_d7.pdf; U.S. Census Bureau, Department of Commerce, American Community Survey and County Business Patterns, “My Congressional District, 116th Congress,” accessed 31 March 2021, https://www.census.gov/mycd/?st=24&cd=07; Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives, “Election Statistics, 1920 to Present,” http://history.house.gov/Institution/Election-Statistics/.

7Congressional Record, House, 108th Cong., 1st sess. (7 May 2003): 10622; Organ Donor Leave Act, Public Law 106-56, 113 Stat. 407 (1999); Federal Employees Health Benefits Children’s Equity Act of 2000, Public Law 106-394, 114 Stat. 1629 (2000).

8Hearings before the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, Subcommittee on the Civil Service, Employment Discrimination in the Federal Workplace – Parts I and II, 105th Cong., 1st sess. (1997): 6; Elijah E. Cummings Federal Employee Antidiscrimination Act of 2019, H.R. 135, 116th Cong. (2019); Federal Employee Antidiscrimination Act of 2017, H.R. 702, 115th Cong. (2017); Federal Employee Antidiscrimination Act of 2015, H.R. 1557, 114th Cong. (2015).

9Peter Hermann, “Baltimore Priority is Drug Treatment: A Conversation with Rep. Elijah Cummings,” 16 March 2001, Baltimore Sun: 15A; Hearing before the House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, Gang Crime Prevention and the Need to Foster Innovative Solutions at the Federal Level, 110th Cong., 1st sess. (2007): 10–13; Congressional Record, House, 109th Cong., 2nd sess. (7 December 2006): 22891–22892; Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 2006, Public Law 109-469, 120 Stat. 3502 (2006); Dawson Family Community Protection Act, H.R. 812, 108th Cong. (2003); Laurie Willis, “Cummings to Present Anti-Crime Bill Today; Congressman’s Legislation was Inspired by Deaths of Dawson Family in City,” 21 July 2003, Baltimore Sun: 3B.

10David Folkenflik, “Loyal Support for Highway Bill Helps in Bringing Home the Pork,” 21 April 1998, Baltimore Sun: 1A; Congressional Record, House, 109th Cong., 1st sess. (9 March 2005): 4110; Lisa Rein and James Hohmann, “Light Rail Picked for Purple Line; O’Malley Says U.S. Funds Also Sought for Baltimore Project,” 5 August 2009, Washington Post: B1; Kevin Rector, “Officials Say Red Line Will Bring Opportunity,” 13 May 2015, Baltimore Sun: A2; “Cummings Applauds Department of Transportation Rulemaking,” official website of Representative Elijah Cummings, press release, 27 January 2011, https://web.archive.org/web/20110602044438/http://cummings.house.gov/2011/01/cummings-applauds-department-of-transportation-rulemaking.shtml; “Cummings Disappointed by Defeat of Amendment to Highway Bill,” official website of Representative Elijah Cummings, press release, 2 February 2012,https://web.archive.org/web/20130317230232/https://cummings.house.gov/press-release/cummings-disappointed-defeat-amendment-highway-bill.

11Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010, Public Law 111-281, 124 Stat. 2905 (2010); Congressional Record, House, 111th Cong., 2nd sess. (28 September 2010): 16905–16907; Hearing before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, Status of the Coast Guard Civil Rights Programs and Diversity Initiatives, 111th Cong., 2nd sess. (2010); Hearing before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, Diversity in the Coast Guard, Including Recruitment, Promotion, and Retention of Minority Personnel, 110th Cong., 2nd sess. (2008); Congressional Record, House, 111th Cong., 2nd sess. (28 September 2010): 16905–16907; Hearing before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, A Review of Coast Guard Acquisition Programs and Policies, 111th Cong., 2nd sess. (2010); Congressional Record, House, 111th Cong., 2nd sess. (28 September 2010): 16906.

12John B. O’Donnell, “Congressional Black Caucus Leader Skips Briefing by Bush on Africa Trip,” 17 July 2003, Knight Ridder Tribune Business News: 1; Congressional Record, 108th Cong., 1st sess. (17 September 2003): 22289; Congressional Record, 108th Cong., 1st sess. (30 October 2003): 26508–26509; Jeffrey McMurray, “Congressional Black Caucus Expands Scope,” 7 December 2003, The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN): A7; Kimberly A.C. Wilson, “Term as Conscience of Congress; Cummings: The Maryland Representative Looks Back Over his Two Years as Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus,” 18 September 2004, Baltimore Sun: 8A.

13“More Solutions Offered for Homeowners; AIG Defends Sales Retreat” 11 November 2008, Financial Wire; Mary Williams Walsh, “Following the TARP Money to Get to the Truth: Inspector Confronted Treasury Officials and Audited A.I.G. Bailout,” 27 January 2010, International Herald Tribune: 20.

14Hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, The Foreclosure Crisis, 112th Cong., 1st sess. (2011): 16; Luke Broadwater, “Wells Fargo Settles Bias for $175M: City of Baltimore to Get $7.5M, 1,000 Area Residents $2.5M,” 13 July 2012, Baltimore Sun: A1; Jamie Smith Hopkins, “State Urges Struggling Homeowners to Seek New Mortgage Help,” 1 June 2011, Baltimore Sun: A15; Hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Pay for Performance: Should Fannie and Freddie Executives be Receiving Millions in Bonuses?, 112th Cong., 1st sess. (2011) 63–65; Joseph Williams, “Cummings Gets Help in DeMarco Fight,” 1 March 2012, Politico, https://www.politico.com/story/2012/03/cummings-gets-help-in-demarco-fight-073523; Joseph Williams, “Cummings, The Homeowner Crusaders,” 6 November 2011, Politico, https://www.politico.com/story/2011/11/cummings-the-homeowner-crusader-067715.

15Ron Cassie, “Up Hill Climb: Carrying Lessons Learned from his Humble Roots, Elijah Cummings has Become a National Leader on Capitol Hill,” October 2014, Baltimore Magazine, https://www.baltimoremagazine.com/section/historypolitics/up-hill-climb/; Peter Hermann, Hamil R. Harris, Ashley Halsey III, “Riots After Gray’s Funeral,” 28 April 2015, Washington Post, A1; Paul Schwartzman and Rachel Weiner, “Bullhorn in Hand, Rep. Cummings Works to Heal his Beloved Baltimore, 4 May 2015, Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/bullhorn-in-hand-rep-cummings-works-to-heal-his-beloved-baltimore/2015/05/01/9c67ed2c-ef57-11e4-8abc-d6aa3bad79dd_story.html; Dan Rodricks, “A Powerful Voice and A Heavy Heart,” 28 April 2015, Baltimore Sun: A3.

16Charles D. Ellison, “CBC in State of Unrest,” December 19, 2010, Philadelphia Tribune: 1A; Hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, The IRS: Targeting Americans for their Political Beliefs, 113 Cong., 1st sess. (2013); Hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Operation Fast and Furious: Management Failures at the Department of Justice, 112th Cong., 2nd sess. (2012); Hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, The Security Failures of Benghazi, 112th Cong., 2nd sess. (2012); Matthew Hay Brown, “Cummings Appointed to Benghazi Panel,” 22 May 2014, Baltimore Sun: A5.

17Richard Simon, “GOP Blocks Democrats’ Bid to Find Darrell Issa ‘Disrespectful,’” 7 May 2014, Baltimore Sun: A6; Dan Rodricks, “Rep. Elijah Cummings Kept Americans Pointed Toward the Possible: ‘We are So Much Better Than This,’” 18 October 2019, Chicago Tribune: 17; Tal Kopan, “Cummings: Issa’s McCarthyism,” 9 April 2014, Politico, https://www.politico.com/story/2014/04/elijah-cummings-darrell-issa-mccarthyism-105513.

18Sean Lengell, “The Thrust and Parry of Elijah Cummings,” 11 July 2014, Washington Examiner: n.p.; Richard Simon, “GOP Blocks Democrats’ Bid to Find Darrell Issa ‘Disrespectful,’” 7 May 2014, Baltimore Sun: A6; Dan Rodricks, “Rep. Elijah Cummings Kept Americans Pointed Toward the Possible: ‘We are So Much Better Than This,’” 18 October 2019, Chicago Tribune: 17; “Elijah Cummings, Democratic Leader Famed for Principled Stands on Charged Issues, Dies at 68,” 17 October 2019, National Post (Toronto): n.p.

19Hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Hearing with Michael Cohen, Former Attorney to President Donald Trump, 116th Cong., 1st sess. (2019): 5.

20Hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Examining the Actions of Drug Companies in Raising Prescription Drug Prices, 116th Cong., 1st sess. (2019): 2.

21Hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, H.R. 1: Strengthening Ethics, 116th Cong., 1st sess. (2019): 1; P.R. Lockhart, “The Importance of Elijah Cummings’s Fight for Voting Rights,” 17 October 2019, Vox, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/10/17/20919743/elijah-cummings-death-voting-rights-supression-civil-rights; Rachael Bade and Colby Itkowitz, “Investigation into Alleged Voter Suppression in Texas, Kansas Expanded by House Oversight Committee,” 28 March 2019, Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/investigation-into-alleged-voter-suppression-in-texas-kansas-expanded-by-house-oversight-committee/2019/03/28/3e2ace74-5190-11e9-8d28-f5149e5a2fda_story.html.

22Ben Terris, “Rep. Elijah Cummings Steps into More Power,” 27 November 2018, Philadelphia Tribune: 4A; Stolberg and Stout, “Elijah Cummings, ‘North Star’ for House Democrats, Dies at 68”; Janelle Davis, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg Will Become the First Woman to Lie in State in the US Capitol. Here’s Who Else Made History,” 25 Sep 2020, CNN Wire Service; Katherine Tully-McManus, “Oversight Hearing Room Named for Elijah Cummings,” 27 February 2020, Roll Call, https://www.rollcall.com/2020/02/27/oversight-hearing-room-named-for-elijah-cummings/.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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Bibliography / Further Reading

"Elijah E. Cummings" in Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007. Prepared under the direction of the Committee on House Administration by the Office of History & Preservation, U. S. House of Representatives. Washington: Government Printing Office, 2008.

Cummings, Elijah. We're Better Than This: My Fight for the Future of Our Democracy. With James Dale and with a foreword by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. New York: Harper, 2020.

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Committee Assignments

  • House Committee - Armed Services
  • House Committee - Government Reform
  • House Committee - Government Reform and Oversight
  • House Committee - Oversight and Government Reform
  • House Committee - Oversight and Reform - Chair
  • House Committee - Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi
  • House Committee - Transportation and Infrastructure
    • Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation - Chair
  • Joint Committee - Joint Economic Committee
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