Elijah Cummings calls on Congress to cancel recess

Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the chairman of the influential House Oversight Committee, called on Congress on Wednesday to cancel the remainder of the August recess to work on gun control legislation.

“Yes, you’ve got people dying. Come on now,” Cummings said during a speech at the National Press Club in Washington. “I think we have a real to do whatever is necessary to save lives.”

Cummings said he has not spoken to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi if she intends to call back the House but he would, “totally support her if she did.”

Earlier this week, CNN reported that Pelosi counseled Democrats on Monday that their most effective strategy is to keep the pressure focused exclusively on the Senate GOP leader’s resistance to allowing a vote on a background checks bill Democrats passed earlier this year, according to sources on a private conference call, as opposed to returning to pass additional legislation.

On Wednesday, Cummings also called on the Senate and President Donald Trump to act on the background check bills.

“This bill passed the House and I call on the Senate and Senate Majority Mitch McConnell to take it up and consider the measures,” Cummings said. “And then I want the President to sign it.”

He added that he has not talked to McConnell in the last few days but asks that McConnell “opens the door” to taking up something.

Cummings also slammed Trump and the Republican Party writ-large for making “glorious statements” on gun control legislation that result in no action.

“Let me be clear, you have a lot of talk. Talk-talk-talk-talk-talk-talk! But in the end, in the end, nothing happens,” Cummings said.

McConnell said earlier this week in a statement that “Senate Republicans are prepared to do our part” on addressing the mass shootings and said he’s spoken to key committee chairmen about considering legislative solutions. There is so far no indication McConnell or his members will return before the recess ends in early September.

Cummings added that, if left unchecked, Republicans in Congress and the President will keep talking about gun control without having to pass legislation.

“I guarantee you the people want action, the people simply want action,” Cummings said. “So, what they’ll do I think is they’ll make these glorious statements and then they’ll know they can make these statements without any repercussions, and they figure the President’s got their back and even if the President says some nice things I believe it’s a situation where McConnell’s got his back.”

Cummings also blasted the “hateful” and “racist language” that encourages “reprehensible behavior.” Cummings remarks come after Trump sharply criticized Cummings in a series of tweets and also insulted his home town of Baltimore as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”

“We must also stop the hateful incendiary comments,” Cummings said Wednesday. “We got to do it. Those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior. It only creates more division among us and severely limits our ability to work together for the common good. As a country, we finally must say enough is enough. That we are done with the hateful rhetoric. That we are done with the mass shootings. That we are done with white supremacists, domestic terrorist, who terrorizing in our country and fighting against everything America stands for.”

Cummings said he is “truly heartbroken” for the families of Dayton and El Paso,

“But the American people are begging us for more than thoughts and prayers,” he said. “They want an answer, and guess what? They want it now, because they know that this is a critical moment in our history.”

CNN’s Clare Foran, Manu Raju and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.