Congressman John Sarbanes has represented Maryland’s Third Congressional District in the U.S. Congress since 2007. He currently serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, in addition to the Subcommittee on Health and the Subcommittee on Energy and Power. Since 2017, he has chaired the Democracy Reform Task Force, a bold effort in the House of Representatives to build a government that puts public interest ahead special interests.
Born and raised in Baltimore, Congressman Sarbanes has experience working in the private, public and nonprofit sectors. He and his family live in Towson, giving him the opportunity to drive home every night and hear from people he serves in Congress. Listening to their concerns allows him to better represent Maryland and has shaped his work in the House of Representatives.
Democracy Reform Task Force
As chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force, Congressman Sarbanes works to confront the Trump Administration’s conflicts of interest and ethical lapses, and to fight back against special-interest policies in Congress, while advancing positive reforms to improve accountability and transparency in government. Congressman Sarbanes is also committed to reducing the influence of the wealthy and well-connected in politics. To this end, he has authored the Government By the People Act (H.R. 20), which aims to empower everyday Americans by elevating their voices in Congress.
Working to Protect the Environment
As a Marylander, Congressman Sarbanes shares his state’s strong tradition of environmentalism that is rooted in a passion for the Chesapeake Bay. He has led efforts in Congress to clean up the Chesapeake Bay with a particular focus on empowering residents of the Bay watershed to become citizen stewards of the Bay and give them an active role in restoring it. He has also worked to expand environmental education opportunities for children, authoring the No Child Left Inside Act to promote healthier children and communities.
Fighting for More-Affordable, Higher-Quality Health Care
Congressman Sarbanes is a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) because he believes it has reduced the cost of health care, improved our nation’s health care system and provided access for those who previously did not have insurance. He will continue to oppose any efforts to repeal the ACA unless a replacement is offered that maintains affordable coverage for the 20 million Americans who gained insurance under the law and that includes critical consumer protections – like the requirement that insurers cover those with pre-existing conditions and the ban on annual and lifetime coverage limits. While the ACA is not a perfect bill, it was a crucial step in the right direction – away from the influence of powerful special interests and toward commonsense solutions for American families.
Giving Students the Tools They Need to Succeed
Congressman Sarbanes has fought to expand higher education opportunities through financial assistance programs like the Pell Grant and has authored laws to help students repay their college loans after they graduate. In this effort, Congressman Sarbanes wrote a law to create the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Option, which provides graduates with forgiveness of remaining student loan debt after 10 years of work in public service or the non-profit sector. The new law helps teachers, nurses, first responders and other public servants pay for college. It allows more people to follow their dreams in careers that are important and rewarding, but not always particularly lucrative.
Life Before Congress
Before coming to Congress, Congressman Sarbanes served for seven years with the Maryland State Department of Education, working to make Maryland’s public school system one of the best in the nation. He practiced law for eighteen years, representing hospitals and senior living providers in their mission to deliver high-quality health care to the people of Maryland. Congressman Sarbanes also worked with public interest organizations in Maryland, like the Public Justice Center, where he championed efforts to protect consumers, provide decent public housing and ensure fair treatment in the workplace.
Congressman Sarbanes graduated from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and studied law and politics in Greece on a Fulbright Scholarship. After graduating from Harvard Law School, he returned to Baltimore, where he clerked for Judge J. Frederick Motz on the federal district court.
Since childhood, Congressman Sarbanes has attended the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation in Baltimore and he has also been active with his wife and children in the Bolton Street Synagogue. For more than twenty years, he has served as a board member of the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies, which seeks to promote understanding and dialogue among people of different religious faiths.