In The News
House Democrats unveiled a draft rules package Thursday for how they would govern the chamber when they take over the majority in the new Congress next year.... The changes are large and small, from a requirement to post legislation at least 72 hours before action is taken to restoring some floor rights for the resident commissioner from Puerto Rico and other nonvoting delegates.... The topics touch on several areas — budgeting, oversight, diversity and the legislative process, among others.... It ensures that the first bill of the new Congress, H.R. 1, will be a sweeping package of good-government reforms, with provisions on voting rights and campaign finance. It is being crafted by Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md.
Democrats will take control of the U.S. House in January with big items topping their legislative to-do list: Remove obstacles to voting, close loopholes in government ethics law and reduce the influence of political money.... Party leaders say the first legislative vote in the House will come on H.R. 1, a magnum opus of provisions that Democrats believe will strengthen U.S. democratic institutions and traditions.... "It's three very basic things that I think the public wants to see," said Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), who spearheads campaign finance and government ethics efforts for the House Democratic Caucus. He said H.R. 1 will "demonstrate that we hear that message loud and clear."
On the 100th anniversary of the war’s end, Lewie, one of the last remaining Tuskeegee Airmen, and all other veterans of war were honored during a ceremony at the Baltimore War Memorial Building Sunday....While World War I did not end all wars, U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes said, “we hope every war and every conflict will be the one to end all conflicts.” ... He thanked the veterans for being the foundation of American society.... “Whatever else is happening in our world, whatever else is happening in our country, whatever the division might be,” Sarbanes said, “veterans are the bedrock.”
Momentum is building within the House Democratic conference to move aggressively on campaign finance reform next year after candidates promised the issue would be at the center of their agenda if they took back the majority.... Half of the new Democrats elected to Congress have refused to take corporate PAC money, according to the grassroots organization End Citizens United, which advocates for campaign finance reform.... Separately, more than 100 Democratic House candidates signed a letter sent last month calling for sweeping reforms, including the disclosure of all political spending. At least 34 of those candidates won their elections, according to ECU, with a few races remaining too close to call.... Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), who has taken a lead role in pushing campaign finance reform, said in a statement to The Hill that Democrats will introduce a reform package as soon as the new Congress takes office. Sarbanes is among a handful of returning Democrats in the House who have sworn off corporate PAC money, according to the ECU.... “On the first day of the new Congress, Democrats will introduce a bold and sweeping democracy reform package that will end the dominance of big money in our politics,” he said.... Democrats say the package, which will extend beyond campaign finance reform, is likely to include two bills on the issue.... One piece of legislation would be Sarbanes’ Government by the People Act, which proposes a small-donor matching system for federal candidates. Under the proposal, donations of up to $150 would be matched by a contribution of public funds at a six-to-one ratio. A donation of one dollar, for example, would trigger a $6 contribution from the public.
There’s a “desire of the everyday Americans to get their voice back,” Rep. John Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat, told me on the phone Thursday. He said the newly elected first-time congressional representatives report that their constituents want restoring democracy and accountability to government to be a top-line priority once the Democratic majority is gaveled in. Sarbanes intends to lead the way by introucing a bill that would shore up the Voting Rights Act, closes some loopholes in ethics laws and regulate campaign finance more strictly. He says he has the support of Democratic leadership and plans for this bill to be the first one offered in the 2019 legislative session.... Bringing the bill up as HR1, denoting that it’s the first bill of the year, will be a “big-bang, thunderclap statement back to the electorate,” Sarbanes said, letting voters know the Democrats have put a priority on ending government corruption and protecting the right to vote.
Democrats’ takeover of the U.S. House in Tuesday’s election instantly strengthened the Washington region’s deep blue congressional delegation, a change that may advance local goals such as Metro funding, statehood for the District and protecting federal workers and the Chesapeake Bay.... Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), who represents Southern Maryland and part of Prince George’s County, is expected to regain his post as House majority leader. Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), from the Hampton Roads area, is in line to chair the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.... Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) is slated to chair the House Oversight Committee, which is expected to investigate what Democrats see as Trump administration abuses. He will be joined by four other Democrats from the region — Norton, Raskin, Gerald E. Connolly from Northern Virginia and John Sarbanes of Maryland.
The first priority for the new Democratic House majority will be passing a bold, sweeping pro-democracy package [led by the Democratic Reform Task Force, which Sarbanes chairs] that will tackle money in politics, voting rights and ethics. Democratic challengers across the country ran on these reforms.... Democratic leadership in the House is committed to cleaning up Washington. And on Tuesday, voters across America made an emphatic statement that they want to see bold changes to our political system. Now, Democrats are going to follow through.... Our current political system is dominated by Washington insiders, well-connected special interests and big money. It blocks progress on a whole host of issues that Americans care about. If we can clean up the system, then we can deliver on other priorities: reducing health insurance premiums, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, giving relief to DREAMers and rebuilding our infrastructure. But democracy reform must come first.
Hundreds protested in Baltimore, Catonsville, Bel Air and elsewhere Thursday as part of a national response to fears that President Donald Trump will quash the Russia investigation.... The “Nobody is Above the Law” protests were coordinated to take place in cities across the United States at 5 p.m., through MoveOn.org as a “rapid response” to Trump’s firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his replacement with loyalist Matt Whitaker.... In doing so, protest organizers said, the president crossed “a red line.” ... Speakers Rep. Elijah Cummings and Rep. John Sarbanes promised to challenge the new appointment.Hundreds protested in Baltimore, Catonsville and Bel Air on Nov. 8, 2018, as part of a national response to fears that President Donald J. Trump will quash the Russia investigation. The “Nobody is Above the Law” protests were coordinated to take place in cities across the United States through MoveOn.org as a “rapid response” to Trump’s firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his replacement with loyalist Whitaker.... Speakers Rep. Elijah Cummings and Rep. John Sarbanes promised to challenge the new appointment.... Though Cummings acknowledged that he is not a fan of Sessions, he said Trump had removed him not because of his character, but to “throw a monkey wrench into Mueller’s efforts. … Whitaker is a man who made it clear that he does not believe in this investigation. … He must recuse himself.” ... Cummings is expected to become chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. In his new role, Cummings would have the authority to demand documents related to Trump’s personal finances and policies, as well as possible agency abuses.... That power was touted by Sarbanes, who promised that Cummings will issue subpoenas and be “the people’s best ally.”
Cleaning up Washington was a campaign rallying cry for Democrats. They promised to go after corruption in the Trump administration, and they vow that their first piece of legislation will aim to strengthen integrity in government.... But before the House Democrats investigate the administration, their first order of business in January will be a bill to fix some other problems. Leading the charge is Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes.... "It's three very basic things that I think the public wants to see. Make it easy and not hard to vote in America. Serve with ethics and integrity. And don't get tangled up in the money.... What happened yesterday is the people gave our democracy its footing back. We found our footing. Now we've got to begin that march to the kind of democracy that people want to see."
Although the exact margin has yet to be determined, Democrats are now projected to hold a majority, thanks to voters unhappy with the Trump Administration, and the first order of business will be highlighting transparency and accountability.... The first major legislative effort will be an ethics reform package that is expected to incorporate proposals for campaign finance reform, voting rights and ethics and accountability. The bill is still being drafted, but Democrats are expecting it to introduce it early in the new Congress. Other top priorities include infrastructure and reducing prescription drug prices. All of these topics theoretically have potential for bipartisan cooperation, although it remains to be seen whether that will actually come to fruition.... At the same time, the incoming chairs of 21 House committees will be looking for ways to hold the Trump Administration officials’ feet to the fire, mainly by pressing forward on investigations they feel were ignored under the Republican majority.... “We need to get in there and see what’s happening,” said Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes, who sits on the oversight committee. “Our job is to put the information in front of the American people so they can make a decision about who they want to be running the federal government.”