Oversight and Government Reform ranking member Elijah Cummings says he wants to defend the Obama administration against unfair attacks, but mostly he believes he is defending the committees traditions and integrity.
“I think there have been incidences that certainly were unfair,” Cummings said, pointing to the handling of witnesses as a key area of disagreement between Democrats and Republicans. In particular, Cummings said he disagreed with Republicans inviting administration officials to testify in lieu of witnesses Democrats wanted and blocking witnesses such as open-government advocate Fred Wertheimer from testifying during a transparency hearing on campaign spending.
Cummings has also been critical of GOP treatment of Elizabeth Warren, a top adviser to Obama, saying Republicans should be “treating her with respect that she is due.” Warren got into a testy exchange with Republicans on the panel in late May when they continued to question her after her testimony had been scheduled to end.
Issa spokesman Hill discounted Cummings’ criticisms.
“He’s clearly serious about defending the administration and is not so serious about oversight,” Hill said, regarding Cummings’ complaints about Warren’s treatment and the decision to not allow Wertheimer to testify when there were other minority witnesses testifying.
“Clearly he is just looking for something to complain about and distract from the main issue the hearing is on,” Hill said.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.