Elijah Cummings

Elijah Cummings
Elijah E. Cummings official photo.jpg
Chair of the House Oversight Committee
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
Preceded byTrey Gowdy
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 7th district
Assumed office
April 16, 1996
Preceded byKweisi Mfume
Member of the Maryland House of Delegates
from the 39th district
In office
January 12, 1983 – January 10, 1996
Preceded byLena King Lee
Succeeded bySterling Page
Personal details
Elijah Eugene Cummings

(1951-01-18) January 18, 1951 (age 68)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Maya Rockeymoore (m. 2008)
ResidenceBaltimore, Maryland
EducationBaltimore City College
Howard University (BA)
University of Maryland, Baltimore (JD)
WebsiteHouse website

Elijah Eugene Cummings (born January 18, 1951) is 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.

Early life, education, and career[edit]

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 serves 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[edit]

Earlier photo of Elijah Cummings

Committee assignments[edit]

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[edit]

Cummings is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[21] 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".[29] He also said that the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has "an abysmal track record in whistleblower cases".[29]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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

Election Winner Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1996 Special Green tickY Elijah Cummings Democratic 18,870 80.9% Kenneth Kondner Republican 4,449 19.1%
1996 General Green tickY Elijah Cummings Democratic 115,764 83.5% Kenneth Kondner Republican 22,929 16.5%
1998 General Green tickY Elijah Cummings Democratic 112,699 85.7% Kenneth Kondner Republican 18,742 14.3%
2000 General Green tickY Elijah Cummings Democratic 134,066 87.0% Kenneth Kondner Republican 19,773 12.8%
2002 General Green tickY Elijah Cummings Democratic 137,047 73.5% Joseph E. Ward Republican 49,172 26.4%
2004 General Green tickY Elijah Cummings Democratic 179,189 73.4% Tony Salazar Republican 60,102 24.6% Virginia Rodino Green 4,727 1.9%
2006 General Green tickY Elijah Cummings Democratic 158,830 98.1% Write-in candidates 3,147 1.9%
2008 General Green tickY Elijah Cummings Democratic 227,379 79.5% Michael Hargadon Republican 53,147 18.6% Ronald Owens-Bey Libertarian 5,214 1.8%
2010 General Green tickY Elijah Cummings Democratic 152,669 75.2% Frank Mirabile Republican 46,375 22.8% Scott Spencer Libertarian 3,814 1.9%
2012 General Green tickY Elijah Cummings Democratic 247,770 76.5% Frank Mirabile Republican 67,405 20.8% Ronald Owens-Bey Libertarian 8,211 2.5%
2014 General Green tickY Elijah Cummings Democratic 144,639 69.9% Corrogan Vaughn Republican 55,860 27.0% Scott Soffen Libertarian 6,103 3.0%
2016 General Green tickY Elijah Cummings Democratic 238,838 74.9% Corrogan Vaughn Republican 69,556 21.8% Miles B. Hoenig Green 9,715 3.0%
2018 General Green tickY Elijah Cummings Democratic 202,345 76.4% Richmond Davis Republican 56,266 21.3% David Griggs Libertarian 5,827 2.2%

Personal life[edit]

Cummings serves 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 writes a biweekly column for the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper. He currently lives in the Madison Park community in Baltimore and is an active member of the New Psalmist Baptist Church.

He is married to Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who was elected chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party in December 2018.[36] They have 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[edit]


  1. ^ Gibbs Smith. Maryland Government. Suzanne Chapelle. p. 65.
  2. ^ Rasmussen, Frederick N. (February 7, 2018). "Ruth Cummings, mother of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings and founder of Victory Prayer Chapel, dies". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  3. ^ "Baltimore City College alum: Elijah Cummings". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Dodge, Andrew R.; Koed, Betty K., eds. (2005). Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-2005. United States Congress. Government Printing Office. p. 904. ISBN 9780160731761.
  5. ^ "Congressman Elijah Cummings: We need to see each other to move forward". Watson Institute. Brown University. March 13, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  6. ^ "Elijah E. Cummings". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  7. ^ "Cummings, Elijah Eugene, (1951 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
  8. ^ Folkenflik, David (October 17, 1999). "As Cummings rose, financial problems grew; Politician struggled with child support, taxes, mortgage". Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  9. ^ "Biography". Congressman Elijah Cummings. December 11, 2012. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  10. ^ Press, Associated (December 19, 2017). "Rep. Elijah Cummings to give commencement address". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
  11. ^ "Pioneering Md. Delegate, Educator Lena Lee, 100". The Washington Post. August 28, 2006. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  12. ^ "Post office branch renamed in tribute to pioneering delegate". The Washington Examiner. June 3, 2006. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  13. ^ "Rep. Cummings to speak at Hood College". January 29, 2014. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  14. ^ a b Brian Beutler (December 16, 2010). "Pelosi Power Play Doomed Towns On Oversight Committee | TPMDC". Tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
  15. ^ "Ed Towns Steps Down; Sources Blame White House". Daily News. Archived from the original on December 16, 2010.
  16. ^ Pierce, Charles P. (February 28, 2019). "The Cohen Hearing Was the Start of a Reconstruction of the American Republic". Esquire. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  17. ^ Zurawik, David (February 27, 2019). "Maryland Congressman Cummings redeems Cohen hearing with passionate, poetic closing remarks". Capital Gazette. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  18. ^ Stableford, Dylan. "Cohen brought to tears by Rep. Cummings at end of House hearing". Yahoo Finance. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  19. ^ "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  20. ^ "Members". Afterschool Alliance. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  21. ^ "Caucus Members". Congressional Progressive Caucus. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  22. ^ "Membership". Congressional Black Caucus. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  23. ^ "Clemens pressed by Congress, denies accusations by Pettitte, McNamee". Star News Online. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  24. ^ National Archives Welcomes Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014 (press release), National Archives and Records Administration (December 1, 2014).
  25. ^ Charles S. Clark, Obama Signs Modernized Federal Records Act, Government Executive (December 1, 2014).
  26. ^ "H.R. 4193 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  27. ^ "Oversight Committee Passes Bipartisan Bills to Improve Federal Worker Savings, Whistleblower Protections". House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform. March 12, 2014. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  28. ^ "CBO - H.R. 4197". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
  29. ^ a b "Oversight Committee Passes Bipartisan Bills to Improve Federal Worker Savings, Whistleblower Protections". House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform. March 12, 2014. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
  30. ^ Dan Spinelli, Cummings declares 'Black Lives Matter' in convention speech, Politico (July 25, 2016).
  31. ^ "Representative Elijah Cummings Delivers Remarks at the Democratic National Convention". C-SPAN.org. Retrieved August 3, 2018.
  32. ^ Matthews, Robert Guy (January 6, 1996). "7th Congressional District candidates". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  33. ^ "Candidate Details". Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  34. ^ "Elections By Year". Maryland State Board of Elections. Retrieved November 25, 2014.
  35. ^ "Board of Trustees - The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore". marylandzoo.org. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  36. ^ Wiggins, Ovetta (December 1, 2018). "Maryland Democrats elect Maya Rockeymoore Cummings as state party chair". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  37. ^ "Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.)". Roll Call. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  38. ^ "Sailor gunned down on sentry duty, Navy says". CNN. July 3, 2009. Archived from the original on March 31, 2012. Retrieved June 15, 2011.
  39. ^ Fritze, John (July 20, 2017). "Cummings plans to return to work during August recess". The Baltimore Sun.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Kweisi Mfume
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 7th congressional district

Preceded by
Eddie Bernice Johnson
Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus
Succeeded by
Mel Watt
Preceded by
Trey Gowdy
Chair of the House Oversight Committee
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mac Thornberry
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Earl Blumenauer