In The News
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 donors were upset with Republicans in Congress. The GOP controlled the House, the Senate and the Oval Office. Yet they hadn’t overturned Obamacare or cut taxes, as Republicans had promised on the campaign trail the previous year…. What unfolded in subsequent months offers an instructive example of how the wealthy and well-connected drive policy in the Trump administration…. “My donors are basically saying: ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again,’” Rep. Chris Collins, R-New York, said as Congress was debating the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which slashed the corporate tax rate and gave hundreds of millions of dollars to the wealthy. (Collins was convicted this year of insider trading and sentenced to more than two years in prison.) Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said GOP donors would quit giving if Congress didn’t pass the bill. Critics of big money in politics pounced. “There was very much an atmosphere of payment on delivery, like, ‘You will get paid when you deliver this particular piece of legislation,’” Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., said in an interview with Public Integrity. Sarbanes and advocates for campaign- finance reform call this kind of politics “pay-to-play.” They don’t think it’s fair to Americans who lack the money to get the kind of access Deason and other wealthy donors have. Public Integrity’s investigation found that Deason reopened his Dallas Piggy Bank after the tax-cuts bill looked like it was going to pass. Dozens of other rich Republican donors opened their wallets, too. “The tax bill and how that came to be, I think really is Exhibit A of how the influence of money can distort and warp public policy in a way that cuts against the broad interest of the public,” Sarbanes said.
U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, along with Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes (all D-Md.) announced an award of $884,646 in federal funds Tipton Airport Authority. The funding is awarded through the Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. These funds will go toward the maintenance and rehabilitation of 70,000 square feet of existing hangars used for aircraft storage.
With just 50 days away from the November general election, Maryland -- like the rest of America -- is relying on the U.S. Postal Service to help voters cast ballots during the coronavirus pandemic. More Marylanders will vote by mail this November than in any previous election. There could be millions of ballots being sent back and forth through the U.S. Postal Service by the time this election is over. Maryland Democrats on the House Subcommittee on Government Operations pressed for details Monday about changes at the U.S. Postal Service ahead of November, questioning the conduct of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. "Mr. DeJoy's conduct sinks to new depths," said U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Maryland.
Frustrated Marylanders who have waited months to receive $600 in now-expired extra unemployment benefits should get priority for the new $300 in additional jobless aid expected later this month, U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen told the state on Thursday. “We continue to hear — on a daily basis — from constituents who are unable to put food on the table and are facing eviction due to a job loss caused by the (coronavirus) pandemic and delays in receiving unemployment benefits,” the Maryland Democrat said in a letter to Tiffany Robinson, the secretary of the state’s Department of Labor. “Many of them have spent hundreds of hours on hold waiting for an MDOL representative to assist them but remain unable to have their case resolved.” The letter, also signed by seven Democratic Maryland congressmen, urged Robinson to prioritize relief to Marylanders who have been waiting months for benefits. There was no immediate response Thursday from the state Labor Department or Gov. Larry Hogan’s office to the letter, which said that many Marylanders awaiting aid face a “dire” financial situation…. The others signing the letter were Democratic Maryland congressmen Kweisi Mfume, C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, David Trone, Jamie Raskin, Anthony Brown and Steny Hoyer, who is the House majority leader.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told lawmakers Monday that he has warned allies of President Donald Trump that the president’s repeated attacks on the legitimacy of mail-in ballots are “not helpful,” but denied that recent changes at the Postal Service are linked to the November elections…. The oversight hearing came two days after the House approved legislation to reverse changes at the Postal Service and send $25 billion to shore up the agency ahead of the November election. Twenty-six House Republicans broke with Trump to back the House bill, which passed 257-150, but there was little sign of bipartisanship at Monday’s hearing…. DeJoy said he’s in “full compliance” with ethics rules and said he resented the line of questions. Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., told DeJoy flatly that he does not trust him. Republicans took the opposite approach, repeatedly apologizing to DeJoy for the harsh questions and dismissing the Democrats' inquiries about mail delivery delays as a conspiracy theory.
Maryland lawmakers announced new federal funding for Baltimore City to help the city prepare for pandemics. U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Representatives Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, and Kweisi Mfume (all D-Md.) today announced $843,988 in federal funding for the City of Baltimore through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Fiscal Year 2020 Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grants. The new funding will be used to develop “regional solutions” in response to catastrophic events, including preparing for pandemics. “This new federal funding will help strengthen Baltimore’s emergency preparedness and response efforts,” the lawmakers said in a statement, “With robust training and resources, city officials can quickly and effectively manage future crises by providing emergency health care services, food supplies, water, and shelter. We remain committed to securing federal support that builds resiliency in our communities and keeps Marylanders safe.”
Democrats have labored to make the case that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy knowingly acted as a henchman for President Donald Trump's designs on the U.S. Postal Service. But during a high-profile congressional hearing on Monday, they might have made a different point more successfully: that he doesn’t know what he’s doing…. “If you think you could implement the changes you did without the negative impact we’ve seen, then I worry about your judgment,” said Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), distilling the crux of Democrats’ general line of questioning that day. “And if you did understand what that impact would be, I’m concerned about your motives.”
Activists rallied outside the Towson post office Saturday in a show of support for the U.S. Postal Service. The event was one of more than 800 Save the Post Office demonstrations nationwide coordinated through political action group MoveOn and partner organizations. Indivisible Towson helped organize protests at the Towson and Timonium post offices…. As they were rallying in Towson, U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Maryland) was preparing to vote in support of the Delivering for America Act. Sarbanes accused DeJoy of "being quite evasive," and said: "We're trying to translate the voices of the people into action on Capitol Hill." The bill passed through the U.S. House of Representatives Saturday evening. The legislation calls for a $25 billion infusion to the U.S. Postal Service.
The Chesapeake Bay Trust, funded by the Maryland Chesapeake vehicle license plate among other sources, has introduced the newest class of its Chesapeake Conservation Corps members. This program was created by the Maryland Legislature to invest in the state’s young people, provide valuable job skills training, and promote the green economy in Maryland. The program matches young people ages 18-25 with non-profit and government organizations for one-year stipend-supported terms of service, focused on improving local communities and protecting natural resources. “The Chesapeake Conservation Corps helps instill critical leadership skills and inspire Maryland’s next generation of environmental stewards,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “I salute this year’s inductees and look forward to seeing their tremendous work to protect the health of the Chesapeake Bay.”