Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) declined to tour a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) facility in Baltimore with HUD Sec. Ben Carson amid a heated exchange with President Donald Trump over the city’s dilapidated conditions.
Carson extended an invitation to Cummings on Tuesday to tour a HUD-run housing project in his home congressional district and assess the city’s longstanding and escalating rodent infestation. Cummings subsequently passed on the opportunity.
“Secretary Carson’s office invited Congressman Cummings yesterday evening,” a source familiar with the situation confirmed to the Daily Wire. “The Congressman was unable to join due to scheduling conflicts.”
Trump ignited a firestorm a week earlier after he criticized Cummings for bullying Border Patrol agents over the conditions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities along the southern border while his own congressional district in Baltimore is a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”
The president immediately faced widespread backlash over what many on the left side of the aisle attributed as racially-motivated accusations. In response, Trump doubled down on the remarks and accused Democrats of always playing “the race card.”
Cummings, however, defended his service for the people in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District, as well as his handling of the House Oversight and Reform committee during his tenure as chairman.
“Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up, and I go fight for my neighbors,” Cummings replied. “It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents.”
Carson, a longtime Baltimore resident, came to the defense of both the president and 13-term congressman on Monday and suggested the two work together in order to bring “some relief” to the deteriorating city.
“I don’t think Elijah Cummings is a bad person. I think he actually is working hard to try and help people. And I certainly don’t think President Trump is a bad person,” Carson said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” “[Trump is] working very hard. In fact, I asked him today, would you be willing to work with Elijah Cummings to bring some relief to the people of Baltimore? He said he would be happy to.”
“I think what President Trump was trying to say is that rather than spending your time talking about, you know, our brave border agents and investigating endlessly things that you can’t find anything on, why not spend time working more for these people, you know, who are suffering?” the HUD secretary continued. “And that he is willing to work with them, I think that’s what we should be asking for.”
The HUD secretary later followed up with Cummings on his suggestion to no avail.