114th Congress Accomplishments
Passed into Law
- On December 16, 2016, President Obama signed into law the Inspector General Empowerment Act, introduced by Chairman Chaffetz and Ranking Member Cummings, to strengthen the ability of Inspectors General to identify fraud and mismanagement in the agencies they oversee.
- On December 16, 2016, President Obama signed into law the Overtime Pay for Protective Services Act of 2016, which Ranking Member Cummings supported, to authorize an increase in overtime pay for Secret Service agents in 2016.
- On December 16, 2016, President Obama signed into law the Federal Asset Sale and Transfer Act, which was introduced by Rep. Jeff Denham and joined by Chairman Chaffetz, Ranking Member Cummings, Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Chairman Bill Shuster, T&I Ranking Member Peter DeFazio, and Reps. Lou Barletta and Andre Carson, to streamline management and disposal of federal real property.
- On December 14, 2016, President Obama signed into law S. 795, a bill to enhance whistleblower protections for contractor and grantee employees. Ranking Member Cummings introduced the companion bill—H. R. 5920, the Whistleblower Protections for Contractors Act—in the House of Representatives. S. 795 passed the Senate on June 23, 2016.
- On June 30, 2016, President Obama signed into law the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016, which includes provisions from the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act introduced in the House by Rep. Darrell Issa and Ranking Member Cummings to make important changes to the existing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by requiring agencies to respond to FOIA requests with a presumption of openness, increase the independence of the FOIA Ombudsman and the Office of Government Information Services, and create a Chief FOIA Officers Council.
- On November 5, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015, which was introduced by Rep. Stephen F. Lynch and joined by Ranking Member Cummings, Reps. Blake Farenthold, Walter Jones Jr., Gerry Connolly, Eleanor Holmes Norton, and G.K. Butterfield to provide first-year federal employees who have a V.A. disability rating of 30% or greater with 104 hours of “wounded warriors leave” for the purpose of undergoing medical treatment for their service-connected disabilities.
- On November 2, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which included provisions from the Medicaid Generic Drug Price Fairness Act of 2015 authored by Ranking Member Cummings and Senator Bernie Sanders, to require drug companies to reimburse Medicaid if they raise the prices of generic drugs faster than inflation. These provisions are projected to save $1 billion over ten years.
- On May 19, 2015, President Obama signed into law H.R. 2252, a bill to clarify the effective date of certain provisions of the Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act of 2014. The bill was introduced by Rep. Will Hurd and joined by Chairman Chaffetz, Ranking Member Cummings, Reps. Peter Welch, Blake Farenthold, and Beto O’Rourke to prevent an unintended discontinuance of certain overtime pay to Border Patrol Agents prior to issuance of regulations implementing the 2014 Pay Reform Act.
Passed by House
- On March 1, 2016, the House passed the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) Amendments, introduced by Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay and Ranking Member Cummings, to close loopholes that have developed in FACA and improve the transparency and accountability of federal advisory committees.
- On January 11, 2016, the House passed the Federal Intern Protection Act, which was introduced by Ranking Member Cummings, to extend to interns working at federal agencies the same statutory protections against harassment and discrimination that currently apply to paid employees.
- On January 11, 2016, the House passed the Presidential Library Donation Reform Act, which was introduced by Rep. John Duncan and joined by Ranking Member Cummings, to require the disclosure of contributors to Presidential libraries.
- On July 21, 2015, the House passed by a unanimous vote of 403 to 0 the Federal Employee Antidiscrimination Act of 2015, which was introduced by Ranking Member Cummings, to strengthen the policies governing federal agencies’ management of Equal Employment Opportunity programs, which enable federal employees or applicants who believe they have been the victims of discrimination to file a complaint about the alleged discrimination.
Passed by Committee
- On July 12, 2016, the Committee passed the Postal Service Reform Act, introduced by Chairman Jason Chaffetz, Ranking Member Cummings, and Reps. Gerry Connolly, Stephen F. Lynch, and Mark Meadows, to restore the financial solvency and improve the governance of the United States Postal Service to ensure it can continue to provide efficient and affordable mail delivery.
Significant Legislation with No Movement
- On November 15, 2016, Ranking Member Cummings and all Committee Democrats introduced the Fair Pay for Presidential Protection Act to fund overtime worked by Secret Service employees in 2016 and all future presidential election years.
- On July 7, 2016, Ranking Member Cummings introduced the Wage and Garnishment Equity Act of 2016 to amend the Consumer Credit Protection Act to strengthen debt collection exemptions to protect debtors and their families from poverty or bankruptcy, and for other purposes.
- On June 28, 2016, Ranking Member Cummings introduced the Derivatives Oversight and Taxpayer Protection Act to strengthen federal oversight of the multi-trillion dollar derivatives market and to ensure that big financial firms—not taxpayers—are on the hook for derivatives losses. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Mark Warner introduced the Senate companion of this legislation.
- On April 21, 2016, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici and Ranking Member Cummings introduced the Stopping Abuse and Fraud in Electronic (SAFE) Lending Act of 2016, which would protect consumers from predatory practices and crack down on some of the worst abuses in the lending industry. Senator Jeff Merkley introduced the Senate companion of this legislation.
- On February 25, 2016, Ranking Member Cummings introduced the Whistleblower Augmented Reward and Non-Retaliation Act (WARN) of 2016, which would expand protections for those who blow the whistle on financial crimes. Sen. Tammy Baldwin introduced the Senate companion of this legislation.
- On February 11, 2016, Ranking Member Cummings and Rep. Ruben Hinojosa introduced the Net Price Calculator Improvement Act of 2016, which would improve existing calculators used by students and their families to estimate the costs of attending college. Senator Chuck Grassley introduced the Senate companion of this legislation.
- On September 16, 2015, Ranking Member Cummings introduced the Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015, which would direct Medicare to negotiate drug prices, penalize drug companies that commit fraud and allow for the importation of lower-cost drugs from Canada. Senator Bernie Sanders introduced the Senate companion of this legislation.
- On September 10, 2015, Ranking Member Cummings introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act, which would build on the “ban the box” movement and help level the playing field in federal hiring for formerly incarcerated individuals by requiring branches of the federal government as well as prime federal contractors to wait to ask for the criminal histories of job applicants until they receive conditional offers of employment. It would also require a study into the employment of the formerly incarcerated. On October 7, 2015, the Senate version of the bill passed the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee unanimously.
- On July 29, 2015, Ranking Member Cummings introduced the REBUILD Act, which would appropriate more than $1.2 billion in emergency funding to address critical challenges facing our nation’s inner-city neighborhoods and would provide funding to help rebuild neighborhoods decimated by decades of discriminatory policies, support economic revitalization, and combat drug and gang violence. Senator Mikulski introduced the Senate companion.
- On July 15, 2015, Ranking Member Cummings introduced the Financial Services Conflict of Interest Act, which would enhance the integrity of the financial regulatory system by mitigating the effects of the revolving door between industry and government. This legislation is supported by the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Americans for Financial Reform, Center for Effective Government, Common Cause, Consumer Action, Government Accountability Project, Greenpeace, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, James A. Thurber, Public Citizen, RootStrikers, and U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG). Senator Tammy Baldwin introduced the Senate companion.
- On June 25, 2015, Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner and Bobby Scott, joined by Ranking Member Cummings and others, introduced the bipartisan Safe, Accountable, Fair, Effective (SAFE) Justice Act, which would implement wide-ranging, broad-based reforms to the criminal justice system based on efforts proven to work at the state level to reduce crime, lower recidivism rates, reform sentencing to address disparities, and facilitate reentry into society of former inmates.
Proactive Investigations and Inquiries
Prescription Drug Pricing
Ranking Member Cummings ramped up his investigation into the rising prices of certain prescription drugs. As a result of Ranking Member Cummings’ work, Chairman Chaffetz agreed to hold two hearings to examine drug prices, in February and September of 2016, and agreed to send document requests to three pharmaceutical companies concerning their pricing practices.
- Turing Pharmaceuticals Inc.: Ranking Member Cummings conducted aggressive oversight of Turing’s CEO, Martin Shrkeli, after his company increased the price of Daraprim—a drug used by pregnant women and immunocompromised patients like HIV/AIDS and cancer patients—by 5,000% overnight. Although Shrkeli agreed to lower the price for the cost of this drug, his company reduced the price up to 50% only for hospitals. The New York Attorney General opened an investigation to determine whether Turing’s decision to institute a restrictive distribution scheme through Walgreen’s specialty pharmacy violated antitrust laws. Shkreli was arrested on December 17, 2015, on securities fraud and wire fraud charges related to his time as a hedge fund manager of his first biopharmaceutical company, Retrophin, and he resigned from his position as CEO of Turing. On February 4, 2016, the Committee held a hearing on prescription drug pricing long requested by Ranking Member Cummings during which Shkreli declined to testify based on his Fifth Amendment right.
- Valeant Pharmaceuticals Inc.: Ranking Member Cummings first requested that the Oversight Committee investigate Valeant Pharmaceuticals in 2015, sending document requests in August and leading all Committee Democrats in demanding a subpoena when the company refused to comply. Cummings sought interviews of top Valeant executives, documents and interviews with Valeant employees that the company refused to provide voluntarily, as well as documents regarding the company’s compliance with federal securities laws. The Department of Justice issued a subpoena to Valeant demanding information about the company’s pricing and distribution practices, and on November 17, 2016, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that criminal charges had been filed against former Valeant Executive Gary Tanner and former Philidor CEO Andrew Davenport. On February 4, 2016, the Committee held a hearing on prescription drug pricing requested by Ranking Member Cummings in which Valeant’s interim CEO testified.
- Mylan, Inc.: Ranking Member Cummings requested that the Oversight Committee launch an investigation of Mylan, Inc. after it dramatically increased its price for EpiPens, including requesting documents and communications regarding the increases. Ranking Member Cummings requested that the Committee hold a hearing with officials from Mylan, which the Committee held on September 21, 2016, with Mylan CEO Heather Bresch.
- Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc.: Ranking Member Cummings pressed Amphastar to lower the prices for its version of naloxone—a heroin overdose antidote—and the Maryland Attorney General announced that he would work with the company to obtain lower prices. Ranking Member Cummings also wrote letters to all 50 Governors, Lt. Governors, and Attorney Generals asking them to negotiate lower prices with Amphastar, and the company has entered into agreements with at least three states—New York, Ohio, and Massachusetts—to lower the price of the antidote.
- Affordable Drug Pricing Task Force: On November 4, 2015, Ranking Member Cummings and Reps. Lloyd Doggett, Jan Schakowsky, Rosa DeLauro, Jim McDermott, and Peter Welch held a press conference to launch the Affordable Drug Pricing Task Force to bring attention to the issue of rising prescription drug prices. As a result of the Task Force’s work, on December 2, 2015, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, and Rep. Donna Edwards chaired a Democratic Steering and Policy Committee hearing to examine rising drug prices.
- Investigation of Generic Drug Prices: In 2014, Ranking Member Cummings and Senator Bernie Sanders launched an investigation into the rising prices of some generic medicines, sending letters to 14 generic drug manufacturers. When some companies refused, Ranking Member Cummings and Senator Sanders requested an investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General, who found that skyrocketing generic drug prices cost taxpayers an additional $1.4 billion over the last decade in the Medicaid program. In 2016, the Department of Justice launched a criminal investigation into price-fixing and other anticompetitive behavior among some of the same manufacturers, announcing the first criminal charges against former executives of Heritage Pharmaceuticals in December. Heritage Pharmaceuticals was one of the 14 companies Cummings and Sanders sent a letter to in 2014. Attorneys General from 20 states also filed a civil lawsuit against Heritage and five other generic drug manufacturers in December. On December 16, 2016, Ranking Member Cummings and Senator Sanders sent a letter to Heritage regarding assertions the company made to Congress during the time period the executives were engaged in price fixing.
- Nursing Home Rating System: On August 6, 2015, Ranking Member Cummings and Senators Ron Wyden and Bob Casey requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a review of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Nursing Home Five Star Quality Rating System, and on August 27, 2015, GAO accepted the request. On February 12, 2015, CMS made revisions to the scoring methodology for its rating system after Ranking Member Cummings sent a letter raising concerns about its accuracy and reliability. On May 2, 2016, CMS announced the addition of six new quality measures to the Nursing Home Compare website. On December 6, 2016, GAO published its report, which found that consumers could benefit from improvements to the rating system if CMS implements its recommendations.
- Federal Hiring Policies: On April 20, 2016, Ranking Member Cummings co-led a letter from 50 House Members to President Obama calling for action to remove questions about an individual’s criminal history from the early stages of federal hiring processes. The Office of Personnel Management proposed a rule on May 2, 2016, to bring fair chance policies to federal hiring and finalized that rule on December 1, 2016. On November 5, 2015, Ranking Member Cummings co-hosted a bipartisan briefing with fair chance advocates and Reps. Darrell Issa, Robert Dold, Bobby Scott, and Patrick Murphy regarding “ban the box” efforts at local, state, and federal levels.
- Examining Bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform: On March 26, 2015, Ranking Member Cummings gave remarks at the unprecedented Cut50 Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform, bringing together conservative and liberal experts and federal, state, and local politicians, including Newt Gingrich, Van Jones, Koch Industries, the American Civil Liberties Union, and others, to discuss bipartisan criminal justice reform. On April 16, 2015, Ranking Member Cummings hosted a bipartisan criminal justice reform forum at Howard University, which brought Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, as well as academics and experts in criminal justice, to speak about bipartisan solutions moving forward. Members included Senators Rand Paul and Cory Booker, and Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Stacey Plaskett, and Raúl Labrador.
- National Violent Death Reporting System: On January 26, 2015, Ranking Members Cummings, John J. Conyers Jr., and Bennie G. Thompson of the House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform, Judiciary, and Homeland Security, and 53 additional Members sent a letter urging President Obama to renew the request he made in the prior year’s budget proposal to fully fund the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) to collect and report data from all 50 states and Washington, D.C. NVDRS collects information on violent deaths, including those involving law enforcement. The President’s budget ultimately requested $23.5 million for the program for FY 2016, which would be an increase of $12.3 million above FY 2015 enacted levels.
- Criminal Justice Hearings: On December 4, 2016, Ranking Members Cummings, John J. Conyers Jr., and Bennie Thompson requested a series of in-depth hearings to examine issues raised by the deaths of Eric Gardner, Michael Brown, and others, as well as incidents that followed these killings. On July 14-15, 2015, Chairman Chaffetz and Ranking Member Cummings held two days of bipartisan criminal justice reform hearings, exploring successful reforms at the state level through governors and experts, and examining federal reform legislation proposed by Members of Congress.
Flint Water Crisis
- On January 29, 2016, Ranking Member Cummings and Rep. Brenda Lawrence requested documents and answers from Michigan Governor Rick Snyder relating to the Flint Water crisis. Governor Snyder ignored this request, prompting Ranking member Cummings to ask Chairman Chaffetz to subpoena the documents. After Ranking Member Cummings’ repeated requests and an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press, the Committee held two hearings with Flint officials, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Governor Rick Snyder. On December 16, 2016, Ranking Member Cummings sent a letter to Chairman Chaffetz urging him to issue a subpoena to compel Snyder to produce within 30 days key documents that he has been withholding from the Committee for the past year. Instead, Chairman Chaffetz suddenly and prematurely closed the investigation in December without obtaining these documents from Snyder.
- On June 1, 2016, Ranking Member Cummings, Committee on House Administration Ranking Member Robert A. Brady, and Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn launched an investigation into the Election Assistance Commission’s Executive Director Brian Newby’s unilateral decision to amend the federal voter registration form to require proof of citizenship in Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas. On September 28, 2016, the Members requested that Newby rescind and reconsider his action in light of their findings, which concluded Newby’s actions violated internal EAC policies and potentially caused voter disenfranchisement. At a subcommittee hearing that day, Ranking Member Cummings questioned Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp about the impact of his request to modify the federal form on voter disenfranchisement, and requested documents, which are being produced to the Committee.
- On December 9, 2015, the Committee unanimously adopted a report entitled, United States Secret Service: An Agency in Crisis. The 439-page bipartisan report, which was the result of a year-long investigation, concluded that the Secret Service has a critical staffing crisis caused by historic budget cuts beginning in 2011, systemic mismanagement, and low morale. The report made 29 recommendations, including that Congress ensure the Secret Service has sufficient funds to restore staffing levels and fully support the President’s FY 2016 request provided there are adequate controls in place to address hiring challenges. That same day, Ranking Member Cummings and Chairman Chaffetz wrote a letter to the Appropriations Committees providing a copy of the Committee’s report. On November 16, 2016, all Committee Democrats introduced a bill that would fund the additional overtime of Secret Service agents in 2016 and all future presidential election years, and Ranking Member Cummings and House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Bennie Thompson wrote a letter to the House Appropriations Committee urging the inclusion of funding for overtime pay in the fiscal year 2017 appropriations bill. President Obama signed the Overtime Pay for Secret Service Agents Act of 2016, which Ranking Member Cummings supported.
- Securities and Exchange Commission: On September 16, 2015, Ranking Member Cummings sent a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requesting information about waivers the SEC granted to five banks despite their histories of criminal and civil misconduct and their admissions of guilt to felony charges. On November 13, 2015, Ranking Member Cummings sent another letter to the SEC opposing a proposed rule that would allow the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and private self-regulatory organizations to grant waivers to banks disqualified from participating in the securities-based swaps market. Since then, the SEC has shown a willingness to withhold waivers, and in October the SEC refused to grant one to UBS.
- Swaps Pushout and Margin: On January 29, 2015, Ranking Member Cummings and Senator Elizabeth Warren sent letters to Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, and Goldman Sachs requesting information about how they will alter their swaps trading practices after the 2014 Omnibus gutted a key section of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. When the banks declined to provide the information necessary to assess the risks taxpayers face, Ranking Member Cummings and Senator Warren sent letters to the Federal Reserve, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, CFTC, and FDIC requesting information about the banks’ practices and the impact of the partial repeal of the Dodd-Frank requirements applicable to swaps trading. The investigation revealed that the partial repeal of Dodd-Frank will enable banks to keep nearly $10 trillion in swaps trades on their books that—were it not for the Dodd-Frank rollbank—would have been “pushed out” to entities that are not insured by taxpayer funds. The investigation also found that regulators have not conducted an analysis of the financial and taxpayer risks posed by the partial repeal of Dodd-Frank.
- Housing and Urban Development: On February 1, 2016, Ranking Member Cummings and Senator Sherrod Brown sent a letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regarding the Department’s sale of distressed mortgages, which partially led to HUD changing its policies around how it sells loan portfolios.
Streamlining the Disciplinary Process
- IG-Agency Coordination: During a hearing on April 30, 2015, on employee misconduct, Ranking Member Cummings requested that EPA and the IG work together using their existing authorities to identify ways to improve information sharing to enable the agency to take more timely administrative action. As a result, EPA and the IG implemented a new agreement between the offices that involves regular coordination meetings and the development of expedited procedures for information sharing.
- CIGIE Survey: On November 17, 2015, Ranking Member Cummings and Democratic Committee Members sent a letter asking that the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) conduct a survey of its members to determine whether procedures under existing authorities, such as increased communication between agencies and IGs, can be used to streamline the disciplinary process throughout the federal government. After discussions with the Ranking Member’s staff, CIGIE distributed revised survey questions to its members on December 22, 2016 with a requested response date of January 20, 2017.
Federal Government Acquisitions
- On September 4, 2014, Ranking Member Cummings and former Chairman Darrell Issa sent letters to the General Services Administration and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy urging that the reference to the privately-owned Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) be removed from the federal government’s acquisition rules. On September 30, 2016 the Federal Acquisitions Council released a final rule that removed the proprietary term DUNS from Federal Acquisition Regulation.
Middle Class Prosperity Project
- On February 24, 2015, Ranking Member Cummings and Senator Elizabeth Warren launched a new “Middle Class Prosperity Project” to examine economic policies of greatest concern to the middle class and those who aspire to it. Over the course of the 114th Congress, the Members convened seven forums as part of this project, including forums to examine wage stagnation, new fiduciary rules to protect the investments made by those saving for retirement, student debt and college affordability, federal investments in scientific Research and Development, access to the financial system among low- and middle-income households, and childhood poverty.