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tv   Elijah E. Cummings Room Dedication Ceremony  CSPAN  March 7, 2020 10:13pm-10:50pm EST

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category of people who knew about technology or assets things that the russians or , others would like to know about tomorrow or the next day. you think i know about it today. so i think we're at a very interesting period. i just don't know enough about what is going on, and i don't want to give you a misleading answer. >> any last questions? going, going. gregory: students? thanking join me in gregory treverton. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] announcer 1: on sunday, bernie sanders holds a rally in grand rapids, michigan ahead of the democratic presidential primary. watch on c-span, online at or listen on the free c-span radio app. leaders of the house of
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representatives participated in the dedication ceremony of the oversight and reform committee's hearing room as the elijah e. cummings' room in honor of the congressman who passed away in october 2019. rep. maloney: good afternoon, everyone. it is my great privilege to welcome you to this ceremony to honor the life and work of our dear friend and colleague, chairman elijah cummings. first i would like to recognize elijah's family members who are here with us today and thank them for sharing him with us. miss jennifer cummings, his daughter. [applause]
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mr. james cummings, his brother. [applause] miss yvonne cummings, his sister. [applause] mr. anthony woodson, he's nephew. [applause] miss carmen williams, his cousin. [applause] when i think about elijah, i think about what a friend of mine once described him, as a gem. that description resonated with me deeply. like a gem, elijah seemed to have his own inner light, his own brilliance. he brought that light into this very room where he was a beacon of truth. he also brought his deep empathy, compassion and the shining power of his faith. he encouraged us to reach not only for common ground but for higher ground. he brought us together in this
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room, and he is doing it again even now. today we are honored to name this hearing room for him. this room and the work we do here will remind future generations of elijah's unwavering commitment to justice as well as his dedication to civility and decorum. he fought with all of his might for what is right, and he never -- he never thought less of those who disagreed with him. i can hear him now quoting from the book of amos -- do you know what i want? i want oceans of it. i want fairness, rivers of it. that's what i want. that's all i want. let me conclude with this. as you all know february is black history month, and i would be remiss if i did not highlight one additional fact. in preparing for today's
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ceremony, we consulted with the congressional historian's office. according to that office, there has never been a room anywhere in the entire capitol that had s been named after an african-american member of congress. it has never been done. so elijah will be a pioneer yet again, and this room will be the first. we are all grieving the loss of elijah, what he did, what he represented, and his spirit is eternal. his light will always be with us. thank you very much. and now i would like to recognize a very good friend of his as the next speaker, congressman mark meadows. [applause] as many of you know, mark was a very close friend of elijah and he also wanted to name this hearing room after elijah. congressman mark meadows.
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[applause] rep. meadows: thank you. well, it is a great honor to honor the chairman. and that's what i referred to elijah, not only as my friend, but as the chairman. he scared me to death, just to be blunt. when i came in as a freshman, i was down there on the lower part of -- well, actually, let me just speak bluntly. it would take me, if we had a hearing monday, i would get to ask questions friday. but elijah never looked at it as anything less than just being one of 435 members of congress, and what we are here today is to give honor where honor is due. i want to recognize every single staff person that is here that worked with elijah. because you know him better than most.
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and a lot of his legacy continues to serve in the halls of congress. the lessons he taught, the things that he shared, the compassion for his fellow man is not only recognized by some on the other side of the aisle, but it is carried on by those who knew him well and served with him and appreciate who he was as a gentleman, as a friend, as a family member, as someone who was always willing to speak truth in a respectable way. you know, you will hear it from other people, that we needed to, you know, from whether it was as a ranking member or chairman, he said we needed to be effective and efficient. and boy, i stole that from him and used that against him as many times as i possibly could. and yet today we are giving honor, and i am just humbled to
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see the crowd that is here. you know, i just am amazed at the impact of one life on the lives of so many others. so we can give him a great applause, amen, and he is hearing the applause of heaven right now because he is in a much better place. so it is my honor to turn the podium over to a good friend from california, chairwoman karen bass, for a few remarks. rep. bass: thank you. humbled but definitely not surprised. a man who was bigger than life , who impacted so many of us, impacted the entire nation. and it was such a blow, and to be here today and see everybody kind of throws you back into the shock that we all felt when we
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received the news. but today we're here to celebrate, and to celebrate his legacy. so i'm proud to join my colleagues today as we honor a man who spent his entire life advocating for justice, civil rights, and safeguarding the integrity of americans' -- america's democracy. while his role as the chairman of the oversight committee, who might be remembered for playing a leading role in what we went through a nation over impeachment, congressman cummings always stood for the people. his leadership and championing affordable health care and drug prices for americans, fighting for children separated from their families. and i know all of us will remember those hearings, when he would get emotional, especially when it came to children and children being hurt. i remember the hearing where he heard about the children that were going to be cut off of life-saving care and that their immigration status was a concern, and the passion that he
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brought and outrage he brought to the notion of that. making sure that the 2020 census will be an accurate representation of our country in -- and standing up for the right to vote for all. these are just a few examples. and i know we can go on all day talking about ways that he has impacted us individually and also our nation. you know, outside of this building, we also watched him, and the whole country watched him, when there were problems in baltimore. we saw our elijah stand in the streets to calm an entire city during a time of unrest and grief after the death of freddie gray, who was a victim of police brutality. we saw him go out night after night and be back here in the morning to chair committee meetings. he foresaw the imminent dangers that we were facing to our democracy. and he always used his gavel to speak truth to the power for our
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nation. he would remind us in the congressional black caucus that our caucus was founded on the principle of being the conscience of the congress, a principle that we cannot ignore at a time like this. when mr. cummings spoke, he spoke with that moral authority frequently reminding us that we are better than that. on behalf of the caucus, i thank speaker pelosi and chairman maloney for dedicating this committee room to congressman elijah so we will ensure his legacy will alway -- always live on. now i have the honor of introducing the most powerful black man in the house of representatives, a history maker in his own right, an icon, the whip, mr. clyburn. [applause] rep. clyburn: thank you very, very much, madam chair.
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madam speaker, mr. leader, madam chair. when i spoke to speaker pelosi some time ago about this day, we were involved in a little bit of activity down in charleston, south carolina. and i sat down to try to write something, what to say. and i thought maybe i would just spend a couple of minutes just talking about elijah and what he meant to me, what he meant to this party, this congress. as some of you may know, elijah's roots were in clarendon county south carolina. , he was born and raised just a few miles where i was born and raised. and of course, we all came along around the time that all of the
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activities were going on that led to the brown v. board of education of topeka, kansas. and so when i came here, i really had spent a lot of summers out in an old area of baltimore called cherry hill. you all may know a little bit about cherry hill. i remember when they built those public housing out there, and everybody -- my whole family thought they had died and gone to heaven when they went to live in cherry hill. and would invite me to come up and spend time with them. and so my time in baltimore was first on cherry hill. so one day -- because i didn't know any of this about elijah, i was talking to him, telling him about my experiences in cherryre on jerry -- hill, and how my family thought something really good happened
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to them that they were moved out there. and he looked at me and said, you and i have a little more than this in common, and he started telling me about mount zero baptist church. and i was so carried away with that, i decided i was going to have a homecoming for elijah at mount zero baptist church. so i got in touch with the church and we arranged for the event to take place, told elijah when it was going to be and we all planned for it. and on that evening around 6:00, one of the worst storms that we ever had on that lake came up. docks were taken away, roofs were taken off houses. and i turned to my wife and i said, you know what, we picked the wrong day to have a homecoming for elijah cummings. nobody's going to show up at this church tonight.
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but we would do -- got in the car and went anyway. when we got to that church, with all the storm, all the rain, it was full of people, the balcony full of people. and that's when i realized how special elijah was. he was not born there, his parents were. he was gone. but they never, ever allowed that family to get from them, and he never allowed them to get from him. you know, growing up a pk, preacher's kid, ain't easy. i grew up one. he grew up one. he talked about how tough it was
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sometimes to try and stay out of trouble. we talked about that. >> [laughter] rep. clyburn: he succeeded much more often than i did. but nobody lived out one of my favorite scriptures better than elijah. hebrew 11:1, "faith, the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen." he and i talked often on the floor, just the two of us, literally whispering into each other's ears about what it meant to hold on to that faith. so for my time, i will always
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hold on to elijah cummings. he meant so much to me. he meant so much to my family. he meant so much to the united states house of representatives and the world. thank you. [applause] rep. hoyer: i thank the whip for that extraordinary introduction that he gave me. >> [laughter] rep. hoyer: i thought he would never stop. >> [laughter] rep. hoyer: maya, we're glad to be here with you. we were sad to be with you and your family and elijah's family at that wonderful homecoming ceremony, where so many of you spoke so well.
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and where so many of his brothers and sisters spoke so compellingly about who elijah was. and what he meant to each of us. for decades, perhaps centuries, people are going to walk into this room. they're going to look up as they come into the room and see the elijah cummings oversight committee room. and they will turn to somebody and say, who is elijah cummings? and perhaps those who knew him well will say he was better than us. >>
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>> [laughter] rep. hoyer: i had the great honor of being elijah's friend and colleague for many decades. he and i did not overlap in the general assembly. he was the speaker pro tem, the first african-american speaker pro tem, and we now have the first african-american woman because elijah cummings led the way. and you will notice because i will introduce the speaker at some time the extraordinary diversity of the leadership of the democratic party and the -- in the house. jim is from cherry hill. nancy is from baltimore. and i'm from prince george's county. >> [applause] [laughter] [applause] rep. hoyer: you may have thought it was something else. elijah was the best of us.
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elijah was in public life for the best of reasons. elijah brought to him an experience and experiences that informed his empathy for others. it was one year ago today that our dear elijah presided over a hearing and said the following, and we've repeated this so often because it is so compelling. he said from that chair, "when we're dancing with the angels, the question will be asked, in 2019 what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact?" it was that power in his
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morality, in his integrity, in his passion for america and its people that will be remembered when people walk through that door and look up and know that they are in the elijah cummings committee room. every day of his career in public service, he dedicated to making sure that people who had the same experience, the same challenge, would be lifted up by those in power. and if not, he would call us to task for not doing that. arm in arm over the angels, elijah is surely is looking down -- arm in arm over the angels, elijah is surely looking down on us with hope and conviction that we will continue his work.
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here in this room that work will surely continue. and will be informed by the example, both from the minority side and the majority side, and for generations to come, members, staff, witnesses and citizens who come to watch proceedings will see his name above the door. a place where justice springs forth to cleanse the darkest corner of our country, wherever corruption and malfeasance tries to entrench itself in our public and republic of laws. and whenever we as a nation counter setbacks in that work or see the march of justice slow to a crawl, elijah's memory will surely inspire americans to keep going, to keep talking, to keep cooperating, to keep creating consensus for a better, fairer, more equal, more inclusive america.
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to keep striving, to keep working for the more perfect union, the more just america he knew to be our birthright. we miss him, all of us, every day on this hill. i know that marilyn misses him every day. i personally miss him every day. some of you heard me say as long as we serve together, elijah nominated me for office in this leadership every time i ran. god, thank you for giving us elijah cummings to bless this country, to bless his family, to bless his colleagues, to bless this committee, to make us
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better than that which we could be, to be all we could be. john kennedy said let us go forth to lead the land we love asking his blessing and his help but knowing that here on earth, god's work must truly be our own. elijah, you did god's work, and you did it well. [applause] not following the clyburn example -- >> [laughter] rep. hoyer: i am going to
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introduce an historic figure that when you and i look back and say we were serving with nancy pelosi, we worked with nancy pelosi, we heard nancy pelosi, you will be able to tell your grandchildren you served with an historic figure, a great speaker. a great person. nancy pelosi of baltimore, maryland. [applause] rep. pelosi: thank you, steny. clearly mr. clyburn didn't think you needed an introduction to this crowd. thank you very much for your kind words. not so fast on historic part, but anyway. [laughter] thank you to jennifer, sister yvonne, cousin carmen, nephew
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anthony, and i'm sorry adia and addaia are missed. please give them my wonderful regard in sharing the wonderful elijah cummings with us. it's really an honor to serve with him, and i know many of us here consider it a joy to call him friend. now i see everybody up here, all of these members of congress in the crowd and in the back they , all wish they were up here because they all had so much to say about elijah cummings, because he was such a -- it such an honor to serve with him. we always learned from him every single day. sometimes i would say to him, close baltimore bro. we had a good rapport. we also consulted. i said elijah, am i mentoring you? i'm older. or are you mentoring me? because we always, always, had the benefit of his thinking. sometimes he didn't want us to think he was teaching us but it was our idea in the first place. he was remarkable.
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so thank you, madam chair, carolyn maloney, for hosting this celebration about this room being named for elijah, and thank you for carrying on his work to protect our constitution, our system of checks and balances, as we exercise oversight. again to the members of the family, we say thank you, but we all consider ourselves members of elijah's official family. members of leadership, members of the maryland delegation are , they all here? members of the delegation, jamie, baltimoreans, sarbanes and ruppersberger and all of the rest. they can attest to the fact, mr. hoyer, they can attest to the fact he was a great baltimore orioles fan, right. don, right? >> [laughter] rep. pelosi: a ravens fan, right? he loved baltimore and he loved
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that team spirit, and he thought that it was really part of his representation here to not only represent the people of the area but the spirit of the area. so it wasn't just baltimore city. it was -- went out into the counties as well. to the congressional black caucus, that involvement was so important to him. and it was a -- like a cornerstone to him, value of the conscience of the congress, especially to the leadership in all of us, but especially had -- his brother mr. clyburn who spoke so beautifully about their spiritual and family backgrounds together. this committee, he loved being chair of this committee. also loved being on the transportation infrastructure committee. that meant a lot to him because it could connect him very directly to meeting the needs of his district. and i was honored to appoint him to the naval academy board of
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visitors, which he enjoyed very much as well. but every place he went, he enhanced the opportunities for making change for the better. now, here we called him our north star. everybody agrees, correct? elijah cummings was our north star. he just was a leading tower of integrity and intellect and character. he was truly the master of the house. as many of us said when we eulogized him in the statuary hall of the house of representatives how appropriate , he would be sent off in congress in such an important way. i don't remember any house member ever was lying in state in the house and so many thousands of visitors coming to say good-bye to elijah cummings. mr. chairman. he was in a room of a statuary
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hall where so many patriots and heroes were memorialized. and elijah too. the people from both sides of the aisle, people from both sides of the capitol. it was beautiful, a beautiful thing. and then we all had the honor of celebrating elijah's life at new solemnist baptist church, and i was glad to make the cut. because i could tell them there of some of the things happening here in reverence in which he was held. this beautiful, saintly man, others have spoken about him saying we're better than this. he was always about the children. the children, our living messengers to a future we will never see. he said over and over again. you heard him say that, right? did you teach him that? >> no. rep. pelosi: [laughter] future we would never see. he wanted to be sure everything we did would make that future better for our children.
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everything he did he wanted to make sure we instilled the values of kindness and america in those children as they went forward. and it was about the children that he spoke from that chair, the chairman's seat. it was about when they talked about what was happening to the children that he said, we are better than this. always connecting to the children. so here we are dedicating a room to him. thank you, madam chair, for pointing out that this is historic. again, as you said, he's an historic figure and pioneer in so many ways. when people walk the halls of congress, whether they come in this room or not, they will see above the door his name. and they will know how special he was by that manifestation of respect for him. but what they also should know is that his name is on so many
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pieces of legislation. his work is on so much policy in the congress of the united states. it made a real difference in people's lives. he was so really spectacular that it is -- i still can't get over getting that call practically in the middle of the night that our darling elijah had left us. but when he was here, and even praying for us up there, as steny referenced and others referenced, dancing with the angels, we know that the life and the work of elijah cummings was really a blessing to america. we say god bless america. he truly did with elijah's work and legacy of elijah cummings. i hope it's a comfort to his family entire family, maya, and , the entire family, that so many people truly, deeply mourn
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your loss still, pray for your family at this sad time. and not only pray for elijah but pray to elijah. thank you, elijah, for being the great person that you are. we miss you terribly. i don't know when that will go away, but we do know one thing, the great work that you did for our country will always be an important legacy for all of us to benefit from for the children. now it's time for us to unveil the plaque. would the speakers come forward to do that? carolyn, i guess, -- no, first we unveil, and then you speak again. >> ok. >> here we are.
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[indiscernible] >> ok, 123. [applause] rep. maloney: i want to thank everybody for coming. his wife, his family, all of his friends and special guests, particularly his staff. he assembled, i believe, the best staff on capitol hill, headed by dave rapalo. [applause]
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and many people did not know this, but they did an incredible job doing the work and the research that led to the impeachment of the president came from this staff and the hard work that they did in many ways. i also want to thank all of his colleagues that he was so proud of and so close to, and to all honored speakers, everyone here, and especially speaker pelosi for making this all happen. thank you for making this happen. it is a special -- it's historic. it's black history month and elijah has a room named after him. thank you for coming. stay and enjoy the refreshments. thank you. [applause]
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>> thank you so much for coming.
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