No doubt the members and staff. Weíve got fine people working here, and Members of Congress are some of my closest friends.
I will miss maybe being in the gym first thing in the morning, like I do everyday, and seeing the guys, Democrats and Republicans. Or playing on the Congressional baseball team.
You build a life different than you see on the floor or what people see on TV. You learn to get to know people, because weíre in stressed situations, tense situations at times. They become some of your closest friends. I will miss that interaction.
On His Biggest Accomplishments
Iím most proud of the constituent service that we did for northern Michigan … From a legislatorís point of view, no doubt, health care … After being here for 18 years and seeing health care start and stop, and start and stop, I was glad to play a significant role to push it over the finish line.
Back home, Iím known as the guardian of the Great Lakes, and since my first day here, I always protected those Great Lakes. Those are my biggest two, from a professional point of view, legislative accomplishments that I look to with pride.
On His Role in the Health Care Debate
Iím more frustrated with the misinformation about whatís out there about the health care bill and the role I played. It was not Bart Stupak and the right-to-life Democrats who injected abortion into the debate, we tried to keep it out of the debate. We had to respond to amendments put forth in committee … when pro-choice groups put their amendments in to pay for abortion, for some of us, we could not accept that legislation, and so we did our counter-amendment.
I get all the blame for it … I guess [I feel] frustration that people donít know the history after all we went through.
On the Scrutiny the Health Care Vote Brought
I used the media scrutiny to get our message across. There were times when the Democratic leadership did not want to negotiate with us. I felt ... we handled it appropriately; we got what we wanted. Weíre proud of that.
The frustrating part was when they attacked my friends, my family, my faith, who I lived with on Capitol Hill … it really got pretty personal.
People donít realize, we didnít go through the regular channels to negotiate the executive order. We met away from here, away from the White House, so we could have a conversation without media scrutiny. The hardest part was ditching the media, but we were able to do so at least for a few hours.
His Advice to Incoming Members of Congress
I would tell new members coming in, ďStop and enjoy this experience. Get to know your colleagues.Ē I know my colleagues well, but I always went home every weekend, and never really traveled much abroad. Thatís part of the learning process, and I encourage them to do that.
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.