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Congressman John Sarbanes

Representing the 3rd District of Maryland

In The News

Mar 14, 2019

For decades, majorities of Americans have favored swift, meaningful action on climate change. They understand that we must transition away from dirty fuels and toward clean, renewable energy. Yet despite this overwhelming support, Congress has repeatedly failed to act. This jarring disconnect between what the public wants to see and what Washington is prepared to deliver doesn’t just threaten the health and safety of everyone in our country—it undermines the very principle of representative democracy. The reason that Congress hasn’t acted is an open secret. Follow the trail of the millions of dollars in campaign contributions from corporate polluters over the years, and you’ll find countless lawmakers who’ve worked to block action on climate change…. That’s why the new House majority passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act — a bold suite of reforms that will transform our government and our political system for the better.

Mar 14, 2019

U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings and other Democrats grilled President Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday on his controversial decision to include a citizenship question in the next national census…. “I think this was concocted by your department and foisted on DOJ and others,” said Rep. John P. Sarbanes (D-Md.). “The documents indicate this originated at the very least inside the Department of Commerce, if not other parts of the administration.”

Mar 12, 2019

President Donald Trump has released his proposed budget for the coming year, and if it’s approved, Chesapeake Bay funding would be cut by 90 percent. The Chesapeake Bay Program is currently funded at $73 million, but the Trump Administration’s fiscal 2020 budget proposes only $7.3 million in funding…. U.S. Representative Elaine Luria called on Congress to not only keep the Bay fully funded, but to ensure funding increases in the future…. The Chesapeake Bay Reauthorization Act, introduced in the House and Senate this year, would go beyond the current level of $73 million, instead providing $90 million in fiscal year 2020 and increasing  the funding by $500,000 a year for five years. According to the lawmakers leading the effort, “the vast majority of funding for the program would go directly toward states within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed – West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York, as well as the District of Columbia – to help control pollution and manage runoff into the tributaries that feed into the Bay. “ The measure is sponsored by a Maryland Democrat and a West Virginia Republican (Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito  (R-WV) in the Senate. In the House of Representatives, the companion measure is sponsored by a Virginia Democrat (Luria), two Virginia Republicans (Rep. Bobby Scott (R-3rd District) and Rep. Rob Wittman (R-1st District), and a Maryland Democrat (Rep. John Sarbanes (MD-3rd District).

Mar 8, 2019

Donald Trump used arguments about a “rigged system” and pledges to “drain the swamp” in Washington to win the presidency in 2016. But Democrats signaled strongly this week that they’ll use the same lines against him in the next election. On Friday, House Democrats unanimously voted to pass a broad package of reforms on voting rights, campaign finance, election security and gerrymandering, among other topics, that would be the biggest changes to elections and anti-corruption statutes in years…. The ideas in it are almost certainly headed to the next Democratic presidential nominee’s platform, and, if the party is successful in 2020, could be one of the first issues Congress takes up.

Mar 8, 2019

The Democrats’ broad signature reform bill—formerly titled the “For the People Act” but better known as H.R. 1—which the party has strongly pushed for in recent months, passed Friday in the House on a party-line vote. With promises from Democrats it will “restore our Democracy,” the anti-corruption legislation tackles campaign finance, voting and ethics laws while also trying to procure President Donald Trump’s tax returns…. When H.R. 1 was unveiled last year by the Democrats, Representative John Sarbanes suggested one possible solution to garnering Republican support in the Senate could be to promote individual components of the legislation and put "pressure on all members" on "both sides of the aisle." But it does not appear party leaders still plan to move forward in that fashion.

Mar 8, 2019

The 2020 election cannot just be a referendum on Donald Trump. It has to be a referendum on the rotten system that made Trump’s presidency possible. Democrats had better be ready to make their case. And now it looks like they are. The new House majority passed H.R. 1 on a 234-193 party-line vote, putting Democrats squarely behind the historic "For The People Act" that wraps vastly expanded voting rights, campaign finance reform and anti-corruption measures into a landmark civil rights bill…. The "For The People Act" also takes aim special interest domination of our politics by adapting Rep. John Sarbanes’ revolutionary public finance proposal to empower small donors. The act would match their contributions 6-to-1 for candidates who participate in the system…. Both parties have relied on millions in anonymous dark money to win elections, but Democrats are making the case that they actually want to clean up the system. It’s a battle they won't win as long as Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump are in charge. But it’s the kind of rallying cry that could help Democrats take them down.

Mar 8, 2019

The House of Representatives will be voting on H.R. 1, dubbed “For the People Act of 2019,” a complex, 622-page bill that aims to overhaul laws regarding voter registration, campaign finance and political ethics….  Public funding of campaigns is intended to minimize the impact of big donors and super PACs, what House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), the principal sponsor of the matching provision, say is the “grievous error” of Citizens United, the Supreme Court case that gave rise to super PACs…. The money for the matching donations would come from a 2.75 percent fee assessed on civil and criminal financial penalties with the government, which then would be earmarked for a “Freedom From Influence Fund.” Daniel Jacobs, a spokesman for Sarbanes, said there was no estimate for how much money this provision would raise. The Congressional Budget Office did not score the provision because the new tax on financial penalties was inserted as a manager’s amendment during Rules Committee markup, after the CBO report was completed. When the CBO examined the bill, the funding supposedly was going to be determined through future legislation.

Mar 8, 2019

The House passed along party lines legislation to overhaul election rules that is likely to stall in the Senate, setting up the bill itself to be a key issue in the 2020 campaign battle between Democrats and Republicans. The bill, known as H.R. 1, includes a range of measures concerning voting rights, election security and campaign finance. Many Democrats see it as the marquee legislation of their new majority in the chamber…. Democrats, likewise, see H.R. 1’s passage in the House—even if it doesn’t become law—as helping them in future elections, pointing to polling that shows voters think there is too much money in politics.

Mar 8, 2019

The House on Thursday passed a massive voting rights, campaign-finance and ethics reform package — a centerpiece of the new Democratic majority’s agenda. The bill, known as H.R. 1 and dubbed the For the People Act by Democrats, was approved on a party-line 234-193 vote…. Still, the bill’s passage fulfills a major campaign promise for many House Democrats, who embraced a theme of cleaning up Washington during the midterm elections…. “In a sense, [voters] wanted to clean this place up and they found the most drastic solution you can think of,” Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), the original sponsor of the bill, said in an interview. “And then they discovered he wasn’t interested in it. Their anger still hasn’t been solved.”

Mar 8, 2019

Senators from Maryland and West Virginia introduced legislation Thursday to match Virginia Rep. Elaine Luria's call in the House to boost Chesapeake Bay Program cleanup funds to nearly half a billion dollars over five years. Luria announced her bill Wednesday along with co-sponsors Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, D-Newport News, Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Westmoreland, and Democratic Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland’s 3rd District. The measure would secure a budget commitment of $455 million for the CBP to continue decades’ long restoration efforts that experts say are finally paying off. Now Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., are leading the same effort in their chamber.

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