Long-time federal employee advocate Rep. Elijah Cummings has died
- By Sherkiya Wedgeworth
- Oct 17, 2019
Chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), a civil rights champion and long-time federal employee advocate, has died at the age of 68.
“In the House, Elijah was our North Star,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that continued: “He was a leader of towering character and integrity, whose stirring voice and steadfast values pushed the Congress and country to rise always to a higher purpose. His principled leadership as Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform was the perfect testament to his commitment to restoring honesty and honor to government, and leaves a powerful legacy for years to come.”
According to his office, he died in the early morning hours of Oct. 17, from complications arising from a longstanding illness.
Cummings dedicated his life to public service for decades. He began his career of public service in the Maryland House of Delegates, where he served sixteen years and became the first African American in Maryland history to be named Speaker Pro Tem, and was first sworn in as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996. He represented Maryland's 7th District since, which includes Baltimore, since 1996, and became Ranking Member of the committee in 2011. He was appointed as Chairman of the Committee in 2019.
He has always been a strong supporter of federal employees. He once said in an MSNBC morning show: “I want to make sure all of those federal employees who have anything they want to say to Congress, because there is some confusion as to whether they can talk to us, I’m telling you the law protects you and I will do every single thing in my power to make sure you’re protected. Call me. I want to talk to you.”
During a hearing on the proposed merger of the Office of Personnel Management into the General Services Administration, Cummings said, "I am always concerned about the way federal employees have been treated. They are the ones that, when we want to balance the budget or look for some extra money, we go to them. They've been furloughed. They've been placed in many positions where they were paying more into pension and getting less in the end, working hard and called everything but a child of God. And so, I want to make sure that whatever we do, that we examine this process very carefully. It's not just getting to the goal, it's the process of getting there."
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C) said in a statement on the passing of Cummings: “Those of us who called Elijah a close friend will remember him for the irony of his commanding presence in a man with such a gentle spirit. His tenacity in serving his district and the nation was always on display as he led the Oversight and Reform Committee with rare bipartisan support in today’s polarized Congress. But Elijah’s service was never the full story. He held deep respect for, and maintained friendships with, Republican and Democratic Members alike.”