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Elijah Cummings

Elijah Cummings

Elijah Eugene Cummings (January 18, 1951- October 17, 2019) was an American politician and the member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Maryland's 7th congressional district.[1] The district includes just over half of Baltimore City, most of the majority-black precincts of Baltimore County, as well as most of Howard County. He previously served in the Maryland House of Delegates. He is a member of the Democratic Party and chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Elijah Cummings
Chair of theHouse Oversight Committee
In office
January 3, 2019 - October 17, 2019
Preceded byTrey Gowdy
Member of theU.S. House of RepresentativesfromMaryland's7thdistrict
In office
April 16, 1996 - October 17, 2019
Preceded byKweisi Mfume
Member of theMaryland House of Delegatesfrom the 39th district
In office
January 12, 1983 – January 10, 1996
Preceded byLena King Lee
Succeeded bySterling Page
Personal details
Elijah Eugene Cummings

Political partyDemocratic
Maya Rockeymoore(m.
ResidenceBaltimore, Maryland
EducationBaltimore City CollegeHoward University(BA)University of Maryland, Baltimore(JD)
WebsiteHouse website[50]

Early life, education, and career

Cummings was born on January 18, 1951 in Baltimore, the son of Ruth Elma (née Cochran) and Robert Cummings.[2] He was the third child of seven. Cummings graduated with honors from the Baltimore City College high school in 1969.[3][4] He later attended Howard University in Washington, D.C.,[4] where he served in the student government as sophomore class president, student government treasurer and later student government president. He became a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society[5] and graduated in 1973 with a Bachelor's degree in Political Science.[4][6]

Cummings graduated from law school at the University of Maryland School of Law, receiving his J.D. in 1976, and was admitted to the Maryland Bar later that year.[7] He practiced law for 19 years before first being elected to the House in the 1996 elections.[8]

Cummings has received 12 honorary doctoral degrees from universities across America, most recently an honorary doctorate of public service from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2017.[9][10]

For 14 years, Cummings served in the Maryland House of Delegates. His predecessor, Lena King Lee, raised funds and campaigned for him; years later, Cummings credited her with launching his political career.[11][12] In the Maryland General Assembly, he served as Chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland and was the first African American in Maryland history to be named Speaker Pro Tempore,[13] the second highest position in the House of Delegates.

Cummings also served on several boards and commissions, both in and out of Baltimore.

Those include SEED Schools of Maryland Board of Directors and the University of Maryland Board of Advisors.

U.S. House of Representatives

Committee assignments

  • Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials

  • Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (Chair) Subcommittee on Domestic Policy. Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Post Office, and District of Columbia.

  • Select Committee on Benghazi

In December 2010, Edolphus Towns announced that he would not seek the position of ranking minority member of the Oversight Committee in the next Congress, even though his seniority and service as chair would typically result in him filling this post. Reportedly, Towns withdrew because of a lack of support from Nancy Pelosi who feared that he would not be a sufficiently aggressive leader of Democrats in an anticipated struggle with incoming committee chair Republican Darrell Issa.[14] Reportedly, the White House also wanted Towns to be replaced.[15] Cummings defeated Carolyn Maloney in a vote of the House Democratic Caucus.[14]

In his role as chair of the "Oversight Committee" he presided over the first public testimony by President Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen.[16][17][18]

Caucus memberships

  • Task Force on Health Care Reform

  • Co-founder and Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Drug Policy

  • Congressional Arts Caucus[19]

  • Afterschool Caucuses[20]

Cummings is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[undefined] He served as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus[22] during the 108th United States Congress.

Cummings received praise following the congressional panel hearings on steroids in 2008. While investigating the use of steroids in sports, the panel called numerous baseball players to testify, including former single season home run record holder Mark McGwire. After McGwire answered many questions in a vague fashion, Cummings demanded to know if he was "taking the Fifth", referring to the Fifth Amendment. McGwire responded by saying, "I am here to talk about the future, not about the past." The exchange came to epitomize the entire inquiry.[23]


Cummings introduced the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014, a bipartisan bill signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2014. The bill, which Cummings cosponsored with Representative Darrell Issa, Republican of California, is a set of amendments to the Federal Records Act and Presidential Records Act. Among other provisions, the bill modernizes the definition of a federal record to expressly include electronic documents.[24][25]

He supported the Smart Savings Act, a bill that would make the default investment in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) an age-appropriate target date asset allocation investment fund (L Fund) instead of the Government Securities Investment Fund (G Fund).[26] Cummings called the bill a "commonsense change" and argued that the bill "will enable workers to take full advantage of a diversified fund designed to yield higher returns".[27]

He introduced the All Circuit Review Extension Act, a bill that would extend for three years the authority for federal employees who appeal a judgment of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) to file their appeal at any federal court, instead of only the U.S. Court of Appeals.[28] Cummings said that this program is important to extend because it "allows whistleblowers to file appeals where they live rather than being limited to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals".[27] He also said that the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has "an abysmal track record in whistleblower cases".[27]

In remarks at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Cummings declared: "Our party does not just believe, but understands, that Black Lives Matter. But we also recognize that our community and our law enforcement work best when they work together."[30][31]

Political campaigns

Cummings speaking at the 2008 Democratic National Convention

Cummings speaking at the 2008 Democratic National Convention

Five-term Congressman for Maryland's 7th congressional district, Kweisi Mfume resigned in February 1996 to take the presidency of the NAACP. Cummings won a crowded[32] seven-way Democratic primary—the real contest in this heavily Democratic, black-majority district—with 37.5% of the vote. In the special election, he defeated Republican Kenneth Kondner with over 80 percent of the vote. He defeated Kondner again in November by a similar margin to win the seat in his own right.

He has been reelected 11 more times since then, never dropping below 69 percent of the vote, and even ran unopposed in 2006.

Electoral history

Maryland's 7th congressional district: Results 1996–2016[33][34]

1996 Special**YElijah Cummings**Democratic18,87080.9%Kenneth KondnerRepublican4,44919.1%
1996 General**YElijah Cummings**Democratic115,76483.5%Kenneth KondnerRepublican22,92916.5%
1998 General**YElijah Cummings**Democratic112,69985.7%Kenneth KondnerRepublican18,74214.3%
2000 General**YElijah Cummings**Democratic134,06687.0%Kenneth KondnerRepublican19,77312.8%
2002 General**YElijah Cummings**Democratic137,04773.5%Joseph E. WardRepublican49,17226.4%
2004 General**YElijah Cummings**Democratic179,18973.4%Tony SalazarRepublican60,10224.6%Virginia RodinoGreen4,7271.9%
2006 General**YElijah Cummings**Democratic158,83098.1%Write-in candidates3,1471.9%
2008 General**YElijah Cummings**Democratic227,37979.5%Michael HargadonRepublican53,14718.6%Ronald Owens-BeyLibertarian5,2141.8%
2010 General**YElijah Cummings**Democratic152,66975.2%Frank MirabileRepublican46,37522.8%Scott SpencerLibertarian3,8141.9%
2012 General**YElijah Cummings**Democratic247,77076.5%Frank MirabileRepublican67,40520.8%Ronald Owens-BeyLibertarian8,2112.5%
2014 General**YElijah Cummings**Democratic144,63969.9%Corrogan VaughnRepublican55,86027.0%Scott SoffenLibertarian6,1033.0%
2016 General**YElijah Cummings**Democratic238,83874.9%Corrogan VaughnRepublican69,55621.8%Miles B. HoenigGreen9,7153.0%
2018 General**YElijah Cummings**Democratic202,34576.4%Richmond DavisRepublican56,26621.3%David GriggsLibertarian5,8272.2%

Personal life

Cummings served on numerous Maryland boards and commissions including the Board of Visitors to the United States Naval Academy and the Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel. He is an honorary member of the Baltimore Zoo Board of Trustees.[35]

In addition to his many speaking engagements, he wrote a biweekly column for the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper. He lived in the Madison Park community in Baltimore and is an active member of the New Psalmist Baptist Church.

He was married to Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who was elected chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party in December 2018.[36] They had three children.[37]

In June 2011, his nephew Christopher Cummings, son of his brother James, was murdered at his off-campus house near Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, where he was a student.[38]

Cummings underwent surgery to repair his aortic valve in May 2017 and was absent from Capitol Hill for two months. In July, he developed a surgery-related infection but returned to work.[39]

See also

  • List of African-American United States Representatives


Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgGibbs Smith. Maryland Government. Suzanne Chapelle. p. 65.
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Citation Linkbioguide.congress.gov"Cummings, Elijah Eugene, (1951 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
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Citation Linkwww.baltimoresun.comFolkenflik, David (October 17, 1999). "As Cummings rose, financial problems grew; Politician struggled with child support, taxes, mortgage". Retrieved February 27, 2019.
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Citation Linkcummings.house.gov"Biography". Congressman Elijah Cummings. December 11, 2012. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
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Citation Linkportal.issn.orgPress, Associated (December 19, 2017). "Rep. Elijah Cummings to give commencement address". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
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Citation Linkwww.washingtonpost.com"Pioneering Md. Delegate, Educator Lena Lee, 100". The Washington Post. August 28, 2006. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
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Citation Linkwww.washingtonexaminer.com"Post office branch renamed in tribute to pioneering delegate". The Washington Examiner. June 3, 2006. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
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Citation Linkwww.fredericknewspost.com"Rep. Cummings to speak at Hood College". January 29, 2014. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
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Citation Linktpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.comBrian Beutler (December 16, 2010). "Pelosi Power Play Doomed Towns On Oversight Committee | TPMDC". Tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
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Citation Linkwww.esquire.comPierce, Charles P. (February 28, 2019). "The Cohen Hearing Was the Start of a Reconstruction of the American Republic". Esquire. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
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Citation Linkwww.capitalgazette.comZurawik, David (February 27, 2019). "Maryland Congressman Cummings redeems Cohen hearing with passionate, poetic closing remarks". Capital Gazette. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
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Citation Linkfinance.yahoo.comStableford, Dylan. "Cohen brought to tears by Rep. Cummings at end of House hearing". Yahoo Finance. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
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Citation Linkartscaucus-slaughter.house.gov"Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
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Citation Linkwww.afterschoolalliance.org"Members". Afterschool Alliance. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
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