In The News

September 16, 2021

Public financing of elections has been around for decades in the U.S. Today there are at least 27 programs in states, cities, and counties (most but not all of them Democratic), with models ranging from direct candidate grants to small-dollar matching. Advocates say public financing can stem corruption, empower a public that too often feels marginalized by special interests, and diversify public bodies from school boards to Congress. The idea has been gaining traction: New York City and San Francisco both moved to bolster their existing programs, and new programs in Baltimore and Portland, Ore., as well as the one in Washington, have gotten off the ground. But there are still questions about how much public financing can mobilize new donors at the local level. And it faces a test in Congress this fall as part of a voting rights package...HR 1, the comprehensive voting rights bill the House of Representatives passed in March, has a provision for voluntary 6-to-1 matching for small congressional campaign donations up to $200. To avoid political blowback from using taxpayer funds, it would be financed through a new fee on criminal and civil fines, fees, and settlements with banks and corporations. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the new fees would reduce the federal deficit by almost $1 billion over a decade. HR 1 would also authorize a voucher program to be piloted in three states, where voters would receive $25 to donate to congressional candidates. Democratic Representative John Sarbanes of Maryland, the lead sponsor of HR 1, says there’s “good momentum” for the public-financing provision. While key Senate swing voter Joe Manchin of West Virginia has expressed reservations about the size of HR 1, he co-sponsored a compromise bill that Senate Democrats introduced on Sept. 14 that included 6-to-1 small-donation matching. Even a trimmed-down package may not garner the 10 Republican votes it would need in the Senate. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has attacked the public-financing proposal specifically as “piles of federal dollars going to yard signs, balloons, and TV ads for candidates at least half of Americans disagree with.” Federal public financing may hinge on the fate of the filibuster. “I think whatever represents real reform, sadly, by definition, will be something that the current Republican leadership in the Senate will stand against,” Sarbanes says. “If that’s the reality we face,” he says, “then you have to look at resetting the rules. And I think that conversation is ongoing among Senate Dems.”

September 13, 2021

Democratic Congress members called for tougher legislation to address death threats against U.S. election administrators following a Reuters report that exposed a lack of arrests in response to a wave of intimidation targeting the workers since November’s presidential election. In a report published on Wednesday, Reuters identified more than 100 threats of death or violence made to election workers and officials, part of an unprecedented campaign of intimidation inspired by former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. The response from U.S. law enforcement has so far produced only four known arrests and no convictions.“This is a real problem, and it needs attention,” said Representative John Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat. “If they are under attack, our democracy is very much under attack.” In late June, Sarbanes was among a group of Democratic House members and senators who introduced the Preventing Election Subversion Act, which would make it a federal crime to intimidate, threaten, coerce, or harass an election worker. It would also seek to limit “arbitrary and unfounded removals of local election officials.” At about the same time, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a task force to investigate threats against election workers. About two weeks earlier, on June 11, Reuters published a report that revealed chilling threats made against Georgia election officials and their families, including Tricia Raffensperger, wife of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. In late July, a House committee held a hearing on election threats. The second Reuters investigation into the topic, published this week, found large gaps in the protection that U.S. law enforcement provides election administrators. Local police agencies said they have struggled to identify suspects who make anonymous threats and to determine which threats rise to the level of crimes. Some election officials complained that police or federal investigators did not take the threats seriously and said they were confused about which agency, if any, was investigating. “This report shows how critical this bill is to protecting the independence and safety of our local election officials and to ensuring that elections are free and fair,” Sarbanes said.

August 19, 2021

The Taliban is now agreeing to allow safe passage for Americans looking to evacuate Afghanistan.

Thousands of US troops have arrived and more are on the way to help secure the airport and aid in that evacuation process.

"A lot of people are saying, 'Why weren't you getting these folks out sooner, a lot of these allied civilians out of the country, and their families, sooner?' Apparently there was a lot of resistance to that by those families themselves because they were hoping that the situation would be a different one, so there was kind of a dynamic there that was difficult to manage," said Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md. "We're going to get briefings on what the intelligence was leading up to these events so we have a better picture as members of Congress of what that looked like."

Sarbanes says the government's efforts right now are on evacuating as many people as possible.

"We've got to get Americans out of there and get them to safety, but also get these civilian personnel that assisted us out of there, and that's what the effort is right now at the Kabul Airport," said Sarbanes.

Now many are starting to debate if America should resettle the refugees created by this situation.

"I think if we can provide that opportunity for them we absolutely should try. There's a lot of bureaucracy that gets involved there. I think we should streamline that if we can," said Sarbanes. "In the meantime, there's other places they can go on an interim basis as they are being processed to come to this country, but I think we owe that to them and we should make every effort to do that."

FOX 45 News also talked to Rep. Harris, R-Md, about Afghanistan. You can read that article here.

July 15, 2021

SiriusXM Audio Player

Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD03) joins guest host Elliot Williams to discuss his sponsorship of the For the People Act, as well as Rep. John Lewis' legacy and inspiration of voting rights legislation.

July 14, 2021

Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) secured $7,225,000 in federal funding via three U.S. House of Representatives Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) appropriations vehicles, including the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (LHHS) spending bill, the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) spending bill, and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD) spending bill. “This new tranche of federal funding for Maryland’s Third Congressional District will help strengthen health care systems, public safety initiatives, job opportunities and community services for thousands of residents,” said Congressman Sarbanes, who secured funding for all ten of his Community Project Funding requests – including $620,000 for environmental projects. “I will always work closely with my colleagues in Congress to deliver vital federal resources that help improve the lives and livelihoods of Marylanders across our state.” LHHS funding secured by Congressman Sarbanes includes: $2,325,000 for the City of Baltimore to expand and enhance broadband internet connections to the city’s senior centers, provide devices to enable telehealth services for seniors and implement an effective telemedicine model at senior centers with the most need; $750,000 for the Living Classrooms Foundation to help address the underlying causes of violence in Baltimore and support the organization’s Safe Streets initiative by increasing access to good-paying jobs through a growing network of job training and job placement opportunities; $750,000 for Vehicles for Change to provide paid internships, certifications and job placement services to individuals with multiple barriers to employment, including many Marylanders who recently returned from prison and work as auto mechanics. The project will also offer cars to families to help them access employment opportunities; $250,000 for the Muslim Community Center, Inc. to help expand its services to residents in Montgomery County and respond to the increased need for affordable health and dental care – including mental health, substance abuse, post-COVID illnesses and patient-centered, coordinated care for the uninsured and underinsured. CJS funding secured by Congressman Sarbanes includes: $2,000,000 for the City of Baltimore to support its 9-1-1 Diversion Pilot, a multi-agency public safety system to divert non-urgent or low-risk calls in the city to behavioral health and crisis professionals instead of the police and $600,000 for LifeBridge Health to support the organization’s Center for Hope, a new comprehensive approach to help prevent violence in Baltimore through coordinated multi-disciplinary teams that work with community partners, government agencies and other experts. THUD funding secured by Congressman Sarbanes includes: $300,000 for the City of Annapolis to help protect the Annapolis City Dock by providing additional flood protection, storm water management and resiliency measures and $250,000 for the Pikesville Armory Foundation to help transform a historic military campus into a public center for recreation, cultural arts, open space, community engagement and historic preservation, which will benefit residents in northwest Baltimore City and Baltimore County. Earlier this year, Congressman Sarbanes accepted FY22 Community Project Funding requests to direct federal resources to nonprofit organizations and public entities, such as state and local governments. 

July 9, 2021

Congress faces growing pressure to pass new federal voting legislation in the wake of a Supreme Court decision last week that will make it more difficult to challenge a spate of new Republican-backed state-level voting restrictions. Democrats already wrestling with a loaded agenda on voting rights now face the additional complication of how to address the ruling, beyond a slew of strongly worded statements. Congressional leaders say legislation to expand ballot access is their top priority in the aftermath of the 2020 election, but they have struggled to advance it. Last month, a sweeping package that would have set a new national baseline for election laws while overhauling campaign finance and government ethics provisions ran into a solid wall of Republican opposition in the closely divided Senate.... Like Democrats’ earlier bill, known as the For the People Act, the Lewis legislation faces an uncertain future in the U.S. Senate. There, it would require the support of all 48 Democratic senators, the two independents who caucus with them, and at least 10 Republicans in order to break a filibuster. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a Republican, has co-sponsored previous iterations of the John Lewis act and is considered likely to do so again.  Butterfield said he still believes it’s possible for negotiations to produce a bill that a sufficient number of Republican senators could support.... Many Democrats are also continuing to push for passage of the For the People Act, which Republicans have said is a partisan proposal in its current form. “There’s really nothing we can say to the voters next year if we don’t get this fundamental democracy reform legislation passed and enacted into law,” said Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Maryland, who sponsored the bill in the U.S. House.... Voting rights advocates and many Democratic lawmakers have pressed Democratic senators to eliminate the filibuster, which would allow legislators to pass bills with a simple majority. “It’s extremely unfortunate, but I think it’s become increasingly clear that Democrats may have to go it alone,” said Aaron Scherb, director of legislative affairs for the nonpartisan Common Cause, a nonprofit group that has advocated for both the For the People Act and the legislation named for Lewis.

June 18, 2021

Descendant of Maryland-born abolitionist Frederick Douglass, joined federal, state and local officials in a ceremony Friday commemorating the 150th anniversary of the groundbreaking for the B&P Tunnel. During the ceremony, Amtrak announced it will honor Douglass by naming its replacement for the B&P Tunnel after him.... In another sign of momentum, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday evening Maryland’s commitment to working with Amtrak and the federal government to replace the aging tunnel. The state and Amtrak are negotiating a formal memorandum of understanding.... Maryland Transportation Secretary Greg Slater wouldn’t disclose how much the state is looking to commit, but said he is working with Hogan on including state-funded portions of the project in the next six-year capital budget for transportation projects. He said the state is already working on procuring new dual diesel and electric locomotives that can run completely on electricity while traveling through the new tunnel. Congressman Kweisi Mfume, John Sarbanes and Anthony Brown each spoke during the event about the importance of the tunnel and what they’re doing to push for federal funding. U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen provided recorded video statements. U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation Polly Trottenberg, Mayor Brandon Scott and Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, a Democratic candidate for governor next year, also spoke. They all said constructing a new tunnel is expected to create 30,000 jobs for the region, including 20,000 during construction. Scott said the project will provide a boost to Baltimore and hopefully convince more people to move to the city even if they work elsewhere. All of the leaders agreed that moving the project forward must be a top priority.  “With all of this leadership here, we have no excuse but to get this thing done,” Slater said.

June 16, 2021

Video Player for Your Voice

As Gov Larry Hogan, R-Md., lifts Maryland out of a state of emergency, businesses are looking, some even desperate to hire. At the same time other small businesses are struggling to pay off debt and secure relief funds. Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., joins the morning show to discuss these challenges in our Your Voice series.


May 19, 2021

Your Voice: Congressman John Sarbanes Video Player

Congressman John Sarbanes discusses the push to create a commission surrounding the January 6th Capitol riot.

May 18, 2021

Helping Americans find employment is the cornerstone of President Joe Biden's American Jobs plan. At least $100 billion has been set aside for workforce development, including registered apprenticeship programs like the one the U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh showcased Tuesday in Baltimore County. Apprenticeship programs like this one have become a priority for people out of work or who may have chosen a profession instead of a formal education. Walsh spent time with close to a dozen residents now enrolled in the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 37 in Sparrows Point. As a former head of a building and construction trades council, Walsh said what he saw taking place in Baltimore County is an example of what can take place across the country. "This is so important because it lays down the foundation for the importance of training, of educating the young people and the people that come through these programs it really is important," Walsh said.... Local and national government leaders said they're committed to investing in the future now.... "It improves the middle class. It lifts our economy more broadly for working people, and organized working people are what can make a difference in this country," said U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Maryland. And in particular, places like the training facility in Baltimore County. The goal of those who are currently in the program is to land a job in three years or less.