Congressman John Sarbanes

Representing the 3rd District of Maryland

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Full Biography

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. Congressman Sarbanes has also been appointed to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, where he serves on the Subcommittee on National Security.

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.

Congressman John Sarbanes currently chairs the Democracy Reform Task Force, which will confront the Trump Administration’s conflicts of interest and ethical lapses, and 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. 

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.

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.

As part of the development and implementation of health care policy, Congressman Sarbanes has focused on ensuring there are enough doctors and nurses to provide quality care for all Americans. He has helped create new laws that address health care workforce shortages, especially in primary care, and has strengthened programs for physician scholarships, loan forgiveness and residency training.

Before coming to Congress, Congressman Sarbanes served for seven years with the Maryland State Superintendent as liaison to the Baltimore City Public Schools, working to make Maryland’s public school system one of the best in the nation. Prior to his work for Baltimore City Public Schools, Congressman Sarbanes practiced law for eighteen years at Venable LLP. There, he led the firm’s health care practice for six years, representing nonprofit hospitals and senior living providers in their mission to deliver high-quality health care to the people of Maryland. At Venable, 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 and the following year began his law practice at Venable.

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.