"We cannot allow it to be said that the difference between those who lived and those who died in this great storm and flood of 2005 was nothing more than poverty, age or skin color," Cummings said.
He disagreed with administration assurances that "the president is moving as fast as he can" to get the relief effort mobilized.
The government needs help, Rep. Cummings said - and he wants it to come from the private sector.
"We have long heard claims of compassionate conservatism among out nation's leaders. We now want the compassion. This is a time for those with welfare resources to step up to the plate and demonstrate that compassion. This is a time to save human lives. People are dying because they have no water - have no water in America!"
Cummings said companies that bottle water now have the "power to save lives," and companies that make baby formula and food must be on the "front lines" of the relief effort.
"Private contractors with helicopters and boats and buses at their disposal could put those to use in the region," he said.
Cummings recited the Bible passage (Matthew 25: 37-40) in which Jesus tells his followers to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, and clothe the poor: "Whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
"To the president of the United States, I simply say that God cannot be pleased with our response," Cummings said.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who has gone to Louisiana to help move refugees out, has criticized media reports focusing on the looting and violence in New Orleans.
He's quoted as saying that some reports portrayed people as animals, but he isn't buying it. "We're going to New Orleans today without a security guard," wire reports quoted Jackson as saying. "We trust people."
Press reports on Friday said President Bush would not touch the ground in New Orleans but would survey the damage from the air, something that his many critics may use against him in the days ahead.