Rep. Elijah Cummings Finally Got to Sit Down with President Trump

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After much delay, longtime Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings got the opportunity to meet face-to-face with President Donald Trump yesterday.

Cummings was joined by Vermont Rep. Peter Welch and Johns Hopkins Hospital president Redonda G. Miller, while Trump had Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price at his side. The primary reason for the meeting was to talk about out-of-control prescription drug pricing in the United State. Cummings and company presented Trump and Price with draft legislation that would give Price’s office the power to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs covered under Medicare.

Presently, Medicare pays retail prices for drugs, meaning the government shells out whatever drug companies are asking for when they decide to ramp up the price of a medication.

President Trump has said previously that he would like to allow the government to negotiate prices and that he feels Big Pharma has far too much power when it comes to lobbying and pricing. (Trump did scare some into thinking he had flip-flopped on that position early last month after he met with pharmaceutical industry lobbyists.) Cummings has pressed Trump on the issue, a sparse bit of potential common ground between the two elected officials.

After yesterday’s gathering, Cummings said Trump seemed “enthusiastic” about the proposed drug price negotiations bill and that he committed to reviewing it.

Drugs weren’t the only topic they touched upon. Cummings told reporters he also grilled the president on his rhetoric about African-Americans and his repeated labeling of American inner cities as “war zones” and being in “terrible shape.”

Per ABC News, Cummings said afterward that he told Trump, “When you’re talking about the African-American community, I want you to realize that all African-American communities are not places of depression and where people are being harmed.”

Cummings said he pointed out to Trump that he’s lived in Baltimore for three and a half decades. “I think it would be good for him to acknowledge that most African-American people are doing very, very well,” he said.

The congressman also said he expressed doubt about Trump’s claims that President Obama wiretapped his phones last year and his claims of voter fraud leading up to the election that put him in the White House.

This meeting had been in the works for weeks. Weeks after Trump called up Cummings after the Maryland congressman requested a meeting on national TV, the president said last week that Cummings had cancelled for political reasons. Cummings promptly denied that claim, saying Trump has likely made it up.

Trump, for his part, tweeted that he thought the meeting went quite well. He didn’t get into specifics.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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