In The News
U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, and Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.) today announced $424,875 in federal funding for the University of Maryland Baltimore to support critical medical research in the fight against COVID-19. The funding, which comes from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will advance studies of the virus through autophagy – the body’s natural process of breaking down damaged cells and regenerating new and healthy cells. “Researchers and scientists have made it their mission to discover new breakthroughs in understanding the novel coronavirus,” the lawmakers said. “This funding will provide crucial support in that effort as the University of Maryland Baltimore explores new methods in autophagy to study the virus. We will continue working to ensure that Maryland’s scientific community has the tools it needs to combat this deadly disease.” Autophagy has been used in earlier cancer cell studies and has shown promising results in other fields of research. Scientists at the University of Maryland, Baltimore – who have been studying the novel coronavirus, including its components, effects and possible vaccines – will use autophagy to gain new insights into the virus.
After the death of Rep. John Lewis, stalwart of the Civil Rights Movement and powerful voice in Congress, condolences poured in from around the globe. Lewis, who faced extreme violence and often arrests as he fought for equality, was 80-years-old, and had been battling pancreatic cancer. Maryland politicians joined the sorrowful yet triumphant chorus with their own messages Saturday, lauding Lewis for his life’s work: ... Rep. John Sarbanes: “America is fortunate to have been graced by John’s leadership, goodwill and spirit. May his memory constantly inspire us to build a more just and equitable society – and to redeem the soul of America.”
Maryland’s federal legislators announced July 16 the awarding of almost $400,000 for firefighters in Montgomery County to continue purchasing personal protective equipment. Montgomery County will receive $357,800 and the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad will receive $45,780 through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters – COVID-19 Supplemental program. Van Hollen, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and U.S. Representatives Jamie Raskin, Steny Hoyer, John Sarbanes, Anthony Brown and David Trone – all Democrats – helped secure the funding.
The nine Democrats in Maryland's 10-member congressional delegation sent a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday expressing worry over his latest plans for Election Day. This week, Hogan said he intends for all polling places to be open and asked the Maryland State Board of Elections that all eligible voters be sent an application for an absentee ballot. “Maryland voters expect and deserve free, fair, and safe elections, and we are alarmed that your directive does not meet that basic standard,” the lawmakers wrote. “We call on you to rescind the directive and issue new guidance designed to maximize both safety and voter participation by mailing ballots for the general election to all registered voters, as was done in the primary." Rep. John Sarbanes told C4 that the plan is burdensome on election officials who will have to field two sets of mailings from voters and could confuse voters who were sent ballots for the primary election and special congressional election without having to send an application. "I agree that we need to have meaningful opportunities for in-person video because some people prefer that. Some people don't have access to mail pretty well," Sarbanes told C4 on Friday. "But the best way to offload a lot of voters from in-person voting is to make the mail-in voting process as easy and accessible as you possibly can." He said that no matter how many polling places open in November, election officials will be faced with a deluge of absentee ballots. He suggested Hogan use federal coronavirus relief funding to support hiring and equipment to facilitate changes the fall election.
Baltimore’s congressional delegation on Thursday announced the region will get more than $450,000 to help support minority- and women-owned businesses and create jobs. The money will come from the U.S. Department of Commerce through the Opportunity Zones Assistance Project, Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Kweisi Mfume, John Sarbanes and Dutch Ruppersberger said in a joint news release. Local funding will also help cover some of the initiative’s costs. “As a result of systemic and entrenched injustices in our society, businesses located in underserved communities – and especially businesses owned by women and people of color – have faced tremendous barriers to accessing the financial resources and technical support they need to succeed,” the lawmakers said in the release. “With strategic investments, more minority-owned and women-owned businesses can get off the ground, prosper, and boost local economies with good-paying jobs. We will continue working to deliver federal resources that help small business owners and strengthen Maryland’s economy for generations to come.”
Several Maryland Democrats are backing a plan to help the United States confront the legacy of centuries of racist policies: a reconciliation process used by South Africa after apartheid and by dozens of other countries after civil wars and other societal schisms. The proposal would establish a federal commission on “truth, racial healing and transformation….” “This is an ‘inflection point,’” said U.S. Rep. John P. Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat who is white. “I think the expressions of outrage and anguish that you’re seeing on the part of the broad public reflects that this moment is different….” The proposal to create a truth and reconciliation commission has garnered much support within the Maryland delegation. Four of the state’s eight members of Congress are cosponsoring it: Brown, Sarbanes, Trone and U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin. All are Democrats…. Sarbanes said he hopes the commission will provide the country with “truth telling” and recommendations for action. He also hopes it will help the public maintain its focus on the racial divides that are driving protests and legislative proposals. High-profile efforts to address racist policies have languished because the public loses interest after commissions and task forces complete their work, Sarbanes said. Meanwhile, Americans have developed a “culture of apologism,” in which they apologize for past actions without rectifying them, he said. A truth-and-reconciliation process — especially one that is open to the public — could help Americans better recognize and address long-standing problems, Sarbanes hopes. “The more outward-facing and public these conversations and discussions can be, the better,” Sarbanes said. “There are so many stories to be shared and told,” he said. “When those stories and experiences begin to cascade and be shared, that could be the momentum we need to get ourselves to a different place.”
Maryland congressional leaders are urging Gov. Larry Hogan to make more improvements to the state’s new Beacon One-Stop unemployment benefits website because they say constituents are not receiving their benefits in a timely manner. U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen wrote a letter to the Republican governor Tuesday, saying they hear from constituents “every day” who continue to encounter problems that are “far from resolved.” U.S. Reps. Steny Hoyer, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Kweisi Mfume, Andy Harris, Anthony Brown, Jamie Raskin and David Trone also signed the letter, saying that some of the problems include errors processing weekly certifications, performance issues with the state’s new Beacon One-Stop unemployment benefits website and inaccurate denials of benefits. “We have previously weighed in with both the U.S. Department of Labor and your administration to urge you to address a myriad of problems preventing or delaying workers getting their benefits,” the lawmakers said in the letter.... The delegation said in its letter that their offices send daily reports to the Maryland Department of Labor with contact information for any constituent who reached out with problems. But the delegation said the labor department has not provided “clear information” about when people will be contacted. “We are left unable to effectively respond to our constituents because the Department has been deficient in providing this information,” the letter said. In the letter, the congressional members urge Maryland Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson to assign a staff member as a liaison to help ensure timely responses between the two entities. “As the Maryland Congressional Delegation, we are committed to working with our federal, state, and local partners to deliver urgently needed relief to Marylanders who are unemployed and face economic hardships not seen since the great Depression,” the members said.
Congressional Democrats outlined their vision for sweeping police reforms on Capitol Hill Monday, following weeks of nationwide protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota…. The legislation, titled the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, includes a series of measures aimed at increasing police accountability, barring racial profiling and increasing transparency surrounding officers’ actions…. “This legislation makes it clear that police departments are serving and are answerable to all the residents in their communities, including African Americans,” said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland. Hoyer is a co-sponsor of the measure on the House side along with Maryland Democratic Reps. Anthony G. Brown, Kweisi Mfume, Jamie B. Raskin, John P. Sarbanes and David J. Trone. Maryland’s two Democratic senators, Benjamin L. Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, are sponsors of the Senate legislation.