Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on Dec. 16 was named ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for the 112th Congress by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“I am honored by the trust shown in me by my Democratic colleagues,” Cummings said in a statement. “Oversight and Government Reform will be a committee of great importance over the next two years, as we continue to seek the causes and solutions of our economic downturn, as we attempt to stem the tide of fraudulent foreclosures in America, and as we ensure our citizens’ money is spent effectively and efficiently by the Federal Government.”

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the primary investigative committee in the House. It has the authority to investigate any federal program and any matter that affects federal policy.

As ranking member, Cummings will now become the highest ranking Democrat on the committee putting him in a difficult position with Republicans taking control of the House in the new session.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) the new committee chair has already promised to closely watch the Obama administration. In particular, Issa is targeting the Troubled Assets Protection Program (TARP) and the Recovery Act.

“The unparalleled encroachment of the federal government in the private sector and the lives of individual Americans that began during the Bush Administration and continues in the Obama Administration has led to concerns of an oncoming tsunami of opacity, waste, fraud, and abuse,” Issa wrote in a report. “This trend must be met by vigorous Congressional oversight of the massive federal bureaucracy.”

In addition, Issa also wants to address smaller issues like the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which gives disadvantaged children in the District of Columbia a chance to pursue education outside of traditional public school classrooms. He said he wants to take a closer look at the program to see if it is wasteful.

Dealing with his Republican colleagues will prove to be quite challenging for Cummings, but it is a challenge that he says he welcomes to keep the president’s policies moving forward.

“I have served proudly on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, both in the Majority and in the Minority,” Cummings continued. “I understand the power of the Committee and how it can be utilized for progress and growth, or for obstruction and attack. I strongly believe in the mission of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform…”

This move also puts Cummings in place to take over as committee chair should the Democrats regain control of the House in the future.