Twenty-four years after leaving the U.S. House of Representatives, Baltimore Democrat Kweisi Mfume returns Tuesday to Capitol Hill to be sworn in as Maryland’s newest congressman, succeeding his friend, the late Elijah Cummings.
The swearing-in will occur on the floor of the U.S. House, with a ceremonial session afterward in the House speaker’s lounge.
Mfume will be sworn in by Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was born in Baltimore as the daughter of Democratic Mayor Thomas D’Alesandro Jr.
The House floor has been mostly empty as lawmakers take precautions during the coronavirus pandemic and conduct strategy sessions from afar.
On April 28, Mfume won a mostly vote-by-mail special general election to reclaim the 7th Congressional District seat he held for 10 years before he left to head the NAACP. He defeated Republican commentator and nonprofit founder Kimberly Klacik.
The district includes parts of Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County.
The scheduling of Mfume’s swearing-in needed to wait until the U.S. House received a certification notice from the Maryland State Board of Elections.
“Welcome to the halls of Congress,” Democratic Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young of Baltimore told Mfume during a conference call Monday about the coronavirus response with county leaders and members of the state’s congressional delegation.
Mfume will fill the remainder of Cummings term. It ends Jan. 3. Mfume may be able to take over Cummings’ former office in the Rayburn House Office Building.
“It’s going to be surreal the first day I walk back into the congressional office that I walked out of,” Mfume told The Baltimore Sun after winning a February primary in the district, in which Democrats hold a 4-1 voter registration advantage.
Mfume is also on a June primary ballot — along with Klacik and others — for candidates seeking a full, two-year term in the district.
Mfume has said often that his previous tenure will allow him to regain at least some congressional seniority, helping him move up the ladder toward leadership positions. House Democratic leaders have not yet provided a response on how much seniority Mfume will receive.