March 15, 2021
Senate Gets Landmark Voting Legislation, But Partisanship Poses Steep Challenges
Jennifer Mandato, Capital News Service
A House-passed package overhauling voting, improving election security and reforming campaign finance laws is now in the Senate, where deep partisan divisions spell an uncertain fate for the landmark bill.
H.R. 1, also known as the For the People Act of 2021, is sponsored by Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Towson, and co-sponsored by every House Democrat. The measure passed the House March 3 on a 220-210 party-line vote.
March 12, 2021
How Many GOP House Members Are Mired in Conflicts of Interest? No One Knows
Jon Skolnik, Newsweek
After Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Program last year, pumping billions of dollars into small businesses struggling under the weight of the pandemic, reports surfaced that sizable chunks of that money went right back into the pockets of Congress. A slew of members, many of them already wealthy, received millions in federal aid for their personal businesses ventures under the auspices of job-saving. That reanimated debate about a longstanding, conflict of interest entrenched within the legislative branch: Members of Congress can hold positions in for-profit corporations while officially serving their constituents in Washington.
Senate ethics rules address this conflict —but the House does not. Senators are prohibited from "from serving as officers or members of the board of any publicly held or publicly regulated corporation, financial institution, or business entity." No such stricture applies to members of the House. Rules restrict all members of both chambers from making 15% in excess of their salaries in "outside earned income," but passive income derived from investments and holdings doesn't necessarily count.
In the News: Congressional working group to explore designating a Chesapeake National Recreation Area
March 11, 2021
Congressional working group to explore designating a Chesapeake National Recreation Area
Christine Condon, The Baltimore Sun
Maryland congressional leaders announced a working group that will consider establishing a National Recreation Area for the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
The recreation area would be managed by the National Park Service, which proponents say would make additional resources available for conservation and recreation in the bay area.
March 10, 2021
As states crack down on voting, advocates look to Congress
Benjamin Barber, Facing South
This past weekend marked the 56th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama, when voting rights marchers were brutally assaulted by law enforcement officers while crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Broadcast on national television, images of state troopers attacking peaceful demonstrators, including John Lewis, a civil rights icon who went on to become a long-serving Democratic congressman from Georgia, shifted public opinion and galvanized Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA).
This year's commemoration — the first since Lewis's death last year from cancer — took place as many state legislatures are ramping up an assault on voting rights.
March 10, 2021
Massive national COVID relief bill a ‘lifeline’ for Baltimore, mayor says
Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun
A $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that Congress passed Wednesday contains an “unprecedented” level of funding for Baltimore and other Maryland cities and counties that have been clamoring for help after seeing revenues plunge because of the coronavirus pandemic, state lawmakers said.
“This is my 15th year and I don’t know of a more important bill that we passed,” said U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Baltimore. “The aid to Baltimore City is unprecedented. We have not had a bill that provides such a significant amount of help to our urban centers.”
March 5, 2021
Election reform: Judge Sarbanes’ proposal on merit, not partisan advantage
The Editorial Board, The Baltimore Sun
There has always something essentially quixotic in Rep. John Sarbanes’ “For The People Act,” its title as idealistic as anything found on its nearly 800 pages of content. In sum, what H.R.1 attempts to do is fix much of what is broken in this nation’s election system, chiefly by making voting more accessible, ending partisan redistricting, raising ethical standards, and exposing and reducing the influence of big money in politics.
Americans should be celebrating its passage in the U.S. House of Representatives late Wednesday and giving thanks to the 58-year-old Maryland Democrat, the eldest son of the late Sen. Paul Sarbanes, who has made this worthy cause a personal crusade. Don Quixote may have tilted at windmills, but John Sarbanes went after something real and far more daunting: a political system that runs on money and disenfranchises far too many Americans.
March 5, 2021
Rep. Sarbanes: Failure to pass HR 1 'would split our democracy in two'
CNN ('Tonight with Don Lemon')
CNN's Don Lemon speaks to Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) about HR 1, a sweeping government, ethics and election bill that, among other things, would counter state-level Republican efforts to restrict voting access, which was just passed in the Democratic-led House.
In the News: House Democrats Renew Calls for Bill Giving Election Agency More Funding and Responsibility
October 22, 2020
House Democrats Renew Calls for Bill Giving Election Agency More Funding and Responsibility
Courtney Bublé, The Government Executive
Following news from intelligence officials on Wednesday evening of foreign election interference attempts, several House lawmakers are renewing their calls for the Senate to take up their massive reform bill that would bolster the funding and responsibilities of the nation’s elections clearinghouse.
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and FBI Director Christopher Wray gave an unexpected press briefing on Wednesday—13 days out from the election—in which they said that Iran and Russia obtained voter registration information in attempts to meddle in U.S. elections. They said that voting remains secure, but House lawmakers renewed the call for the Senate to take up their “2019 For the People Act,” which the chamber passed in March 2019 and has specific provisions to beef up the Election Assistance Commission.
October 21, 2020
Your Voice: Congressman John Sarbanes
Another coronavirus relief bill isn't looking promising, at least not right now.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned the White House not to make a deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before the November election.
U.S. Representative for Maryland's 3rd congressional district, Congressman John Sarbanes, joins us to explain the holdup, and talk about the second and final presidential debate.
October 19, 2020
The Wealthy Getting Less Scrutiny On Taxes
Scott Horsley, NPR ('All Things Considered')
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: A teacher, a small-business owner and a retiree who complained they paid more in federal income taxes than President Trump are now gracing campaign billboards in swing states around the country. The ads follow reporting by The New York Times that Trump paid little or no federal income tax in most of the last 20 years. Trump has denied that report, but as NPR's Scott Horsley reports, the wealthy are getting less scrutiny from the tax collector with each passing year.
October 8, 2020
Kudos for Rescuing Chesapeake Bay Program
Kaitlyn Leitherer, The Baltimore Sun (LTE)
I want to voice my support and congratulations to Rep. John Sarbanes, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and everyone who worked tirelessly to pass America’s Conservation Enhancement Act (“U.S. House passes up to $92 million in Chesapeake Bay cleanup funding; advocates expect Trump to sign," Oct. 1). The passage of this bipartisan legislation is exciting news for the future of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and is cause for celebration.
Growing up in Federal Hill, my life has been full of waterfront memories — passing runners on scenic morning jogs and watching the sunset from a bench at the park. However, I also have memories of sweltering afternoons where the lack of shade-providing trees (and the occasional smell of dead fish due to algae blooms) made the four-block walk to my best friend’s house almost unbearable.
October 1, 2020
Congressional Klieg lights could give way to restructuring of biopharma
Mari Serebrov, BioWorld
Attributing recent reductions in certain U.S. prescription drug prices to intense congressional scrutiny rather than a biopharma industry commitment to affordability, Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) said Congress must put more guardrails in place and restructure how the industry does business.
“I don’t trust the industry to do the right thing when we’re not looking at you with these Klieg lights,” he told executives from Amgen Inc., Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and Novartis AG Oct. 1 during the second day of a House Oversight Committee hearing on drug prices.
In the News: Democrats Dressed Down Dumbfounded Pharma Executives at Fiery Congressional Hearing on Drug Prices
October 1, 2020
Democrats Dressed Down Dumbfounded Pharma Executives at Fiery Congressional Hearing on Drug Prices
Blake Montgomery, The Daily Beast
Several Democratic representatives blasted pharmaceutical executives over the prices of their companies’ drugs during a Wednesday House Oversight Committee hearing that caught the chief of Bristol Myers Squibb subsidiary Celgene and Teva flat-footed. Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) drew a stark connection between bonuses the former Celgene CEO, Mark Alles, had received in recent years and price hikes for the cancer therapeutic Revlimid, which has risen in price from $215 in 2005 to $763 today. When Alles could not succinctly answer whether the drug had improved alongside the price hikes, Porter replied, “To recap here: The drug didn’t get any better, the cancer patients didn’t get any better, you just got better at making money, you just refined your skills at price gouging.”
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) pointed to internal documents from drugmaker Teva that calculated the return on investment from charitable donations when she said, “Your pharmaceutical company makes these so-called charitable donations so you look like you give a shit about sick people.” Teva’s CEO Kåre Schultz failed so badly to win over lawmakers that one told him he “might as well get off the screen” of the virtual hearing. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) told Schultz, “It would have been nice to come, maybe, equipped a little bit better.”
September 30, 2020
U.S. House Passes Bill to Bolster School-Based Health Centers
Elizabeth Shwe, Maryland Matters
A bill that would will help deliver primary care, dental screenings and mental health services to students in low-income and underserved communities passed by voice vote in the U.S. House of Representatives late Tuesday.
The School-Based Health Centers Reauthorization Act, sponsored by Rep. John P. Sarbanes (D-Md.), would continue federal support for school-based health centers through 2025. The statutory authorization had expired in 2014.
September 27, 2020
Sarbanes on talks about coronavirus relief
Jason Newton, WBAL-TV (NBC)
It has been six months since Congress passed the coronavirus relief act for the coronavirus pandemic, and talks between the White House and lawmakers are stalled over another round of relief. Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes talks about what's happening in Washington now.
September 24, 2020
Maryland Lawmakers Announce $5.6M To Upgrade MARC, Railways
Maryland lawmakers announced $5.6 million in federal funding to upgrade MARC Commuter trains and improve the overall railroad infrastructure across the state.
The congressional delegation includes – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Steny H. Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Kweisi Mfume, Andy Harris, M.D., Anthony G. Brown, Jamie Raskin and David Trone (all Md.)
September 23, 2020
Maryland Congressional Delegation Over $240K For Chesapeake Bay Education Initiatives
U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, along with Congressman John Sarbanes (all D-Md.), announced $242,858 in federal funding on Wednesday for the Chesapeake Bay Trust to expand environmental education programs.
The funding, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed Education and Training grant program, will help local school districts and educators create and maintain environmental education programs for students throughout the area.
September 17, 2020
The Dallas Piggy Bank
Sarah Kleiner, The Center for Public Integrity
In June 2017, a group of 400 conservative donors was wrapping up a conference organized by the Koch Brothers at the five-star Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs.
The 450-acre retreat offers activities such as horseback riding, fly fishing, golfing, $260 deep-tissue massages, all situated among sparkling views of the Rocky Mountains.
In the News: Maryland postal workers, lawmakers urge public to rally behind Postal Service as Frosh considers lawsuit
August 17, 2020
Maryland postal workers, lawmakers urge public to rally behind Postal Service as Frosh considers lawsuit
Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun
Postal workers, union officials and Maryland political leaders urged citizens Monday to rally behind the U.S. Postal Service, saying public pressure can help reverse significant cuts at an agency “under attack.”
“We need everybody,” said Sherry McKnight, president of American Postal Workers Union Local 181, which represents about 1,600 Baltimore-area postal workers.
In the News: Postal Service reviewing staffing following complaints of mail delays in Baltimore area
August 10, 2020
Postal Service reviewing staffing following complaints of mail delays in Baltimore area
Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun
Frustrated lawmakers made surprise visits Monday to post offices in Dundalk and Essex, as the U.S. Postal Service said it was reviewing its staffing following complaints of severe mail delivery delays in the Baltimore area.
Rep. John Sarbanes, a Baltimore County Democrat, recently joined other federal lawmakers in expressing concern that the Postal Service’s new cost-reduction policies will reduce delivery trips, potentially leaving mail on docks or workroom floors.