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“He certainly should be considered an up-and-comer in the Caucus, and I think that he’s a real asset for the leadership, and he’s gong to be a real asset for the administration in his role as the ranking member on OGR,” the aide said.
But others have questioned whether there would be room for yet another Marylander at the top of House leadership if the 71-year-old Hoyer sticks around. Hoyer will serve as Minority Whip in the next Congress.
Van Hollen, the ambitious ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee and outgoing chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has also eyed a move up the elected leadership ladder.
In a recent interview with Roll Call, Cummings dismissed a question about his leadership aspirations.
“I’m not thinking about that, to be honest with you,” he said. “That’s not even on my mind.”
Instead, Cummings’ focus is on his new role, where he said he would work hard to strike a balance between rooting out any fraud and abuse within the executive branch with countering any overzealousness on the part of Issa or other Republicans.
“The No. 1 mission of the oversight committee is to make sure that government is operating effectively and efficiently and that taxpayers’ dollars are being spent so that they provide maximum benefit to our constituents,” he said.
Cummings has long had his eye on the top spot on oversight, but got into the race only after Towns bowed out. He said he honed his oversight skills while he was chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee that oversees the Coast Guard, which he said he demanded “be excellent in everything it did.”
And just because he has close ties to the president, doesn’t mean Obama should expect an easy ride out of him, Cummings said.
“This administration has to have high standards and must pursue excellence because I think that benefits all of us: Democrats, Republicans and the president himself,” he said.
Still, after Republicans won the House majority in 1994, Cummings said he saw firsthand how the oversight committee “could step over the line with regard to deposing and examining witnesses,” and pledged to stop Republicans over the next two years from making similar mistakes. As part of that effort, Cummings said he has already started discussions with Issa about finding areas of common ground.
“What I have to make sure of is that the committee stays true to its mission and not partake in fishing expeditions and efforts which are not consistent with our mission,” he said.