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Elijah Cummings dies at 68

Elijah Cummings speaks at an American Federation of Government Employees conference in Feb. 2017. Photo courtesty AFGE under creative commons 2.0 license.

Elijah Cummings addresses an American Federation of Government Employees conference in Feb. 2017. (Photo credit: AFGE / licensed under CC BY 2.0)

Elijah Cummings, the longtime Democratic congressman from Baltimore and chairman of the powerful House Committee on Oversight and Reform died in the early morning hours of Oct. 17, his office announced, from complications arising from a longstanding illness. He was 68.

"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," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

As one of three House chairman leading the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, along with Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Cummings was deeply involved in the headline news of day. But he will be remembered by federal employees as a passionate defender of the federal workforce and an enthusiastic supporter of career public servants.

"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," Cummings said at a May 2019 hearing on the proposed merger of the Office of Personnel Management into the General Services Administration. "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."

Cummings was also known for his strong bonds with Republicans serving across from him on the committee. Former Rep. Trey Gowdy, who worked alongside Cummings as Oversight chairman and then as ranking member, said that Cummings was "one of the most powerful, beautiful and compelling voices in American politics. The power and the beauty came from his authenticity, the conviction, the sincerity with which he held his beliefs."

Cummings has represented Maryland's seventh congressional district, which includes much of Baltimore, since 1996. Before that he served for 14 years in the Maryland House of Delegates. Cummings graduated from Howard University and the University of Maryland School of Law. In addition to his work on the Oversight committee, Cummings served on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and was a past president of the Congressional Black Caucus.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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