In The News
Democratic members of Congress from Maryland and Virginia put forward a long list of ideas on Thursday that they hope to include in the next coronavirus relief bill. Many of the members said their top priority is additional money for state and local governments, which are struggling to provide social services for their residents during the crisis as they expect to take in far less tax revenue.... Rep. John Sarbanes (Md.) pointed out that local governments need funds to hire contact tracers, as Baltimore County is doing.
Rep. Tom Malinowski , D-7, on Friday, May 1, hosted a virtual forum called "Defending Our Vote & Combating Corruption" on protecting democracy and expressing the need for voting by mail, campaign finance reform, and not forcing voters to choose between voting rights and their health. Malinowski was joined by Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Maryland, chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force, and Tiffany Muller, president and executive director of End Citizens United and Let America Vote, for a virtual forum on protecting democracy and defending the vote during the coronavirus pandemic and while combating the influence of special interests…. "I ran on those issues. We demanded that our future Congressional leadership, if we were elected, take this up as their top priority and indeed, after we were elected, under Congressman Sarbanes' leadership, we drafted a bill called HR 1 – the first bill introduced in the house in that term – that took on ethics reform, that took on campaign finance and dark money in our politics that took on partisan gerrymandering. We passed it in the House and as I suppose one might have predicted it has ever since been blocked by the main opponent of reform in our country today – Sen. Mitch McConnell, leader of the United States Senate…. Sarbanes said there needs to be a new way of funding campaigns where the people are in charge and where they own the system and where they own the priorities when it comes to policy. "We're going to go to the people that have broken our democracy by leaning on it the big corporations and the wealthy and we're going to have them be the ones to pay to fix this democracy because that's how it ought to work," Sarbanes said. "So let's take back control of how policies made in Washington by having a people step up and own the system."
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., pointed on Sunday to President Trump's intention to oust another inspector general — this time a Department of Health and Human Services watchdog — to bolster his call for the next coronavirus legislative relief package to include measures to "forestall fraud and favoritism." Blumenthal, along with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Reps. John Sarbanes, D-Md., and Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., unveiled the details of their proposal to congressional leadership on Friday, urging them to "include strong oversight, accountability, and anti-corruption provisions in any upcoming legislation to provide economic aid, relief, recovery, or stimulus in response to COVID-19 in order to safeguard taxpayer funds and to bolster Americans' faith in government to respond to this crisis."
More than $9 million is being directed to COVID-19 housing relief for Marylanders for tenant-based housing voucher recipients. The full Maryland congressional delegation, which includes U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Steny H. Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John P. Sarbanes, Andy Harris, M.D., Anthony G. Brown, Jamie B. Raskin and David Trone, announced the funding on Thursday. The funding comes from the CARES Act, which is provided $1.25 billion nationwide for tenant-based rental assistance to help with the Housing Choice Voucher program. It includes $400 million for increased subsidy costs, which are paid directly to landlords and $850 million for administration and other expenses incurred by public housing authorities to “support or maintain the health and safety of assisted individuals and families, and costs related to retention and support of participating owners. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created significant financial hardships for Americans – especially those in our most vulnerable communities,” the delegation said in a statement. “These new federal funds will help low-income Marylanders keep a roof over their heads at a time when they may be facing job losses and reduced income. Our delegation will continue to work together to ensure that federal assistance makes its way to the people who need it most.” The new funding will also go to the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.
Johns Hopkins University’s global COVID-19 tracker, which has served as a valuable tool for tracking the coronavirus since the map was publicly released in January, is getting a $200,000 injection of federal funding. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, and Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger and John P. Sarbanes, Democrats who represent Maryland, made the announcement Wednesday. “Accurate, real-time information about the spread of COVID-19 in each and every community is critical for our response to the pandemic. The Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 dashboard remains the foremost tracking resource for public health experts and policymakers nationwide,” the lawmakers said in a release. “We are committed to delivering sustained federal support to this important project.”
Members of the Maryland congressional delegation urged President Trump to allow the state to use federal facilities, such as Fort Meade and the National Institutes of Health, for coronavirus testing. In a letter to the president, the delegation said that designating the National Capital Region as a federally supported testing site is critical for the increased testing needed to reopen the region. “In order to be able to first mitigate the outbreak and subsequently begin restarting our economy, we must utilize the full and complete testing resources that we have at the federal and state level,” the letter reads. “These labs can be key to ensuring the state’s recovery plan is successful and we get Marylanders back to work as safely and quickly as possible.” ... The congressional letter is signed by Reps. Anthony G. Brown (D), Steny H. Hoyer (D), Andy Harris (R), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D), John Sarbanes (D), Jamie B. Raskin (D), David Trone (D) and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D). The lawmakers note that Vice President Pence on April 20 said that federal laboratories will be made available to states across the country.
So far Congress has passed more than $2.2 trillion dollars of stimulus funding. Part of that funding is being distributed to individuals and small businesses through the CARES Act…. This week, Congress is voting on additional stimulus funding. Sen. Mark Warner (D) of Virginia is referring to it as stimulus bill 3.5. He says the focus of this legislation is replenishing the small businesses funds and making sure funding gets to small businesses that were missed before…. Rep. John Sarbanes (D) of Maryland agrees. He feels more money is needed, but says oversight in how it is distributed is key. "We're pushing very hard right now in negotiations in Washington to replenish that fund with an additional $250 billion," says Sarbanes. "But we're also very focused on the fact that some of those dollars are not getting to the smallest businesses."
Larry Miller explores with Congressman John Sarbanes calls for 2020 Census delays and restrictions the Constitution places on this process.
The Maryland congressional delegation sent a letter Tuesday to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, urging him to reconsider how future money is allocated to Maryland hospitals under the CARES Act, which Congress passed late last month. The delegation specifically has asked department Secretary Alex Azar to consider COVID-19 hot spots and under-served areas of the state in future disbursements, with an eye towards transparency in the decision-making process…. According to a letter penned jointly by U.S. Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) and Reps. Steny H. Hoyer, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John P. Sarbanes, Andrew P. Harris, Anthony G. Brown, Jamie B. Raskin and David J. Trone, the Department of Health and Human Services based funding allocations for the first round of disbursements off of 2019 Medicare Part A and B claims in an effort to speed up the process of apportioning the money…. “While we understand that using Medicare Parts A and B claims from 2019 allowed HHS to disburse the first tranche of funds quickly, it has disadvantaged other critical providers that serve vulnerable and low-income populations,” they wrote, specifically noting the hit taken by nursing homes, children’s hospitals and health care providers in under-served regions of the state.