Maryland has a new congressman, but he is no stranger to the House of Representatives. Democrat Kweisi Mfume was sworn into office Tuesday to the position he held more than two decades ago.
Mfume, 71, once again is representing Maryland’s 7th Congressional District, which includes parts of Baltimore City, Baltimore County and the majority of Howard County. The district formerly was represented by Rep. Elijah Cummings, who died last October.
“I’m convinced that our nation still stands before the world as perhaps the last expression of a possibility of mankind devising a social order where justice is the supreme ruler and law is but its instrument, where freedom is the dominant creed and order but its principle, where equity is the common practice and fraternity the true human condition,” the congressman said in brief remarks on the House floor.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, administered the oath, and in a ceremonial reenactment later, the Baltimore-born lawmaker embraced her family’s Maryland roots in welcoming Mfume.
“We’re very honored to have the Maryland delegation – I’m sort of an honorary member here – all of us, to welcome Representative Mfume back to the House of Representatives, where he served with such distinction,” Pelosi said.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, also welcomed Mfume on his return, saying in House floor remarks: “The voters of the 7th District, to their credit, replaced great intellect with great intellect, a passion for justice, equality and opportunity with a successor who mirrors and shares that passion and history of commitment.”
Mfume will serve the remainder of Cummings’ term in the House, which ends in January. Mfume also is seeking a full, two-year term.
Mfume served five terms in Congress after first being elected in 1986. He left in 1996 when he became the CEO of the NAACP.
The congressman defeated Republican Kimberly Klacik in the special election, with over 73% of the vote. The election was conducted via mail in ballots only, due to the coronavirus and concerns for the health and safety of people wanting to vote in person.
Mfume was a member of the House Ethics Committee and the Joint Economic Committee of the House and Senate during his previous tenure with Congress. Mfume also is a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
During his earlier House service, Mfume co-sponsored the Americans with Disabilities Act, passed legislation to strengthen the Equal Credit Opportunity Law and co-authored and successfully amended the Civil Rights Bill of 1991 “to apply its provisions to U.S. citizens working for American-based companies abroad,” according to his campaign website.
The congressman could not be reached for an interview.
Mfume’s current agenda as representative includes lowering prescription drug costs, improving and strengthening Obamacare, banning assault weapons and preserving Social Security, according to his website.
He has not yet been assigned to House committees.
While Mfume was being sworn into office, the House chamber was noticeably empty and people around the room wore face masks.
Mfume noted that while he was excited about taking office once again, the United States is in a health crisis and millions of people around the country are being faced with unemployment.
“Madam Speaker, our challenges as a nation at this hour, as you and others know better than I, are economic, educational, social and systemic,” Mfume told the House. “And they require both the courage of conviction and the unwavering resolve that the American spirit has always exhibited in order to solve them.”