Were Billions of Dollars ‘Stolen’ From Rep. Elijah Cummings’ District?

In July 2019, United States President Donald Trump once again recycled an old tactic of responding to criticism from Democratic Party lawmakers by pushing false and debunked claims about them. In this case, Trump singled out Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings by claiming, with no evidence, that money had been “stolen” from Cummings’ congressional district.

On July 31 2019, Trump told reporters:

The most unsafe city in the country — in our country — is Baltimore. It’s received as much money — it receives top of the line — billions of dollars. Somebody said $15 billion over a short period of time. All of this money goes there. And take a look at it. I don’t have to describe it. Take a look at it.

The misinformation was picked up and spread around social media by the president’s followers, including one post in August 2019 that had been shared more than 13,000 times on Facebook in one month:

But that claim was debunked by the Baltimore Sun newspaper, which reported that Baltimore itself had received just $380 million in federal aid since 2017:

The money represents federal grants sprinkled across 75 services — with the biggest amounts paying for HIV treatment services for people without health insurance, permanent housing for the homeless and reducing tobacco use by pregnant women.

That total includes $40 million the federal government awarded as Community Development Block Grants, flexible funding that allows local governments to deliver housing renovations, economic development and recreational facilities to low-income neighborhoods. It’s a program Trump wants to eliminate.

During that same period, Cummings’ district received around $8 billion in aid. That money, however had already been allocated toward programs ranging from medical research at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, Social Security beneficiaries, and vouchers used for rent-subsidy programs, among others. The Sun further debunked a variety of false claims from the president concerning both the city and Cummings’ district.

Trump’s attack against the congressman came after the House Oversight Committee — led by Cummings, a consistent critic of the president and his administration — voted to subpoena email and text communications conducted by White House staff on their personal email accounts.