In The News
Members of the Maryland congressional delegation and several other members of Congress gave tributes to former Maryland Sen. Paul Sarbanes on the Senate and House floors Tuesday evening in a Special Order Hour, remembering him for his strong principles and work ethic. Sarbanes (D) died Sunday at the age of 87. Over his 40 year political career, Sarbanes was most well-known for being first to compose articles of impeachment against President Nixon and for the Sarbanes-Oxley act– the law that is credited with providing transparency and oversight for corporations after the Enron scandal. “Transparency, accountability and ethics were the watchwords of Paul Sarbanes,” Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said on the House floor Tuesday night.... “He loved the state of Maryland, and especially the Chesapeake Bay,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said in his speech commemorating the late senator. “He took on the mantle of forging and strengthening the federal partnership to clean up his beloved Chesapeake Bay.” Though leaders commemorated his signature legislation, they also spoke of personal relationships with Sarbanes — calling him their role model, mentor and friend. “Paul Sarbanes was known as a senator’s senator,” Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) said. “For his integrity, for his commitment to public service, for his strong commitment to principles.” On Tuesday morning, Sens. Van Hollen and Cardin submitted Senate Resolution 797 to honor Sarbanes’ life and achievements and express condolences to his family. “He had an inherent integrity that was always strengthened by always striving to meet the expectations of all who put their confidence in him,” the late senator’s son, Rep. John P. Sarbanes (D-Md.), said. “In politics he was motivated by the burning conviction that every individual has dignity and the potential to succeed if given a fair shot.” Rep. Sarbanes said that recently his father sat down to film 20 hours’ worth of oral history, during which he discussed his life and career. He recounted stories that he was proud of, from getting affordable housing for senior citizens in Baltimore to helping a rural post office on the Eastern Shore drop a discriminatory new policy. “It really conveyed who he is and what he cares about,” Sarbanes said. Sarbanes said he remembers one time that he came home and his dad was sitting in the living room, revved up about something. The elder Sarbanes banged on the side of the couch and said “I’m for the little guy, I’m for the little guy.” “He might as well in that moment have been stating his purpose in public life,” John Sarbanes said. “That’s what motivated him from the moment he got up in the morning to the moment he went to bed at night....” Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) said…. “ He will always be, in my mind, the image of what a senator is.... He thought that there was no greater honor than in being a public servant.” Reps. David J. Trone (D-Md.), Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Andy Levin (D-Mich.) and Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.) also gave speeches honoring Sarbanes, along with Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.).
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday passed legislation to authorize the development and construction of a national monument to fallen journalists, including the victims of the Capital Gazette massacre in 2018. The bill, passed with unanimous consent, authorizes a privately-funded memorial to be constructed on federal lands within the District of Columbia to honor journalists, photographers and broadcasters killed in the line of duty. The House of Representatives passed the bill by a voice vote in September. It now goes to President Donald Trump for his signature. Maryland's Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin were original cosponsors of the measure.... The bill's House sponsors included Reps. John Sarbanes and Elijah Cummings. Cummings signed onto the bill in August 2019, two months before his death. The legislation authorizes the Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation, an initiative of the National Press Club Journalism Institute, to establish the memorial on certain federal property off of the National Mall. The Annenberg Foundation and the Ferro Foundation have contributed $300,000 toward the effort.
Mercy Medical Center was awarded more than $10 million in federal funding Tuesday to help continue the fight against the coronavirus, congressional leaders said. Authorized under the Stafford Act from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the funding will help create 32 new isolation and treatment rooms for COVID-19 patients in the Mary Catherine Bunting Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, lawmakers said. The funding of $10.4 million was announced by U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Reps. Steny Hoyer, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Kweisi Mfume, Andy Harris, Anthony Brown, Jamie Raskin and David Trone. “This emergency funding to expand COVID-19 treatment rooms will help ensure the dedicated professionals at Mercy Medical Center can continue their vital work, while increasing Maryland’s hospital capacity and reducing overcrowding to keep healthcare workers and Marylanders safe,” the lawmakers said in a news release. “We remain committed to securing additional federal funding to provide our healthcare workers and hospitals with the resources they need to get us through this public health emergency.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday she would press ahead early next year with a campaign finance and elections overhaul, even as the measure may face the same Senate fate it did this Congress: doom. House Democrats passed their signature overhaul measure in March 2019 and dubbed it HR 1, indicating its priority. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked it in his chamber, however. Even though the Senate majority for the 117th Congress hinges on two runoff elections in Georgia, Democrats and their outside allies said they would still push for the measure, spotlighting McConnell’s resistance. “The strategy is to keep pointing out that McConnell is the one blocking the bill,” Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes, the lead sponsor of the overhaul measure, said Monday during a call with reporters. “He sort of crossed his arms on the Senate side from Day One and said that this legislation will not see the light of day. That’s not a reason not to continue the fight and to amp it up, which is what we’re doing here. Sarbanes acknowledged that even with a Democrat in the White House, the measure’s future was uncertain. If Democrats had won the Senate majority outright, it would likely have been atop the chamber’s agenda in the new year. As it is, if Democrats win both Georgia Senate seats, the chamber would only be tied with a Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. “We don’t know when and how the opportunity to move this will present itself, but the key is to be ready,” Sarbanes said. Pelosi and Sarbanes said during the call that they expect the House to move early next year to pass a bill similar to the current measure, which stretches hundreds of pages. It would set up an optional program to match contributions candidates receive from small donors with six times that amount from the government. It would also institute same-day voter registration and early voting nationwide, and impose new ethics requirements on government officials, among other provisions.
On Friday, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Steny H. Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Kweisi Mfume, Anthony G. Brown, Jamie Raskin and other lawmakers announced $2,337,908 in federal funding to improve maternal and child health care services across the state. Funding comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It will help the Maryland Department of Health’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau lower maternal mortality, reduce infant mortality and enhance the delivery of maternal care. “The alarming rise in maternal and infant mortality across the country – especially among communities of color – demands swift and urgent action,” the lawmakers said. “This critical federal funding will help to both improve the delivery of care to expecting mothers and newborns, and address some of the glaring inequities in our health care system. Team Maryland will continue working tirelessly to secure federal resources that improve the quality of health care for every family in our state.”
In terms of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort, the Trump EPA failed to crack down on Pennsylvania for dumping on its downstream neighbors. This triggered a lawsuit against EPA by Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. New Biden-appointed leadership at the EPA could put more pressure on Pennsylvania to impose rules on its farmers to keep their manure and fertilizer out of streams. However, it is worth noting that the last time a Democrat was in the White House, the Obama/Biden EPA was equally unwilling to impose any serious penalties on Pennsylvania, even though it was also obvious back then that the state was falling down on its Bay cleanup obligations. Congressman John Sarbanes of Maryland said he and colleagues are committed to pressuring the Biden EPA harder this time around because a deadline in EPA’s Bay cleanup plan is now looming in the year 2025. “Members who care about the Chesapeake Bay – we’re going to be speaking with one voice, pushing on the Biden Administration to make a clean break from the policies of this Trump Administration,” Sarbanes said. “And even to make a break from the kind of, you know, lesser action we saw previous to that when it comes to Chesapeake Bay programs.”
Democrat Joe Biden, who won Maryland's 10 electoral votes, won the race for president, NBC and the Associated Press projected Saturday morning. Reaction came swiftly.... U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, D-District 3, released a statement, saying: "In a historic moment for our nation, the American people -- in record-breaking fashion -- voted to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House. During this challenging time for our country, this is the team to unite us in the fight against COVID-19, work with Congress to provide critical assistance to millions of American families and small businesses and put us on a path to sustained economic recovery. "I look forward to working with President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris as we restore the promise of American democracy by cleaning up corruption, instilling a culture of ethics and accountability in our government and protecting and expanding the sacred right to vote. Uprooting the entrenched special interests in Washington will pave the way for a progressive agenda that includes lowering the cost of health care and prescription drug prices, ending police brutality and advancing the cause of racial justice, tackling the climate crisis, providing every American with the opportunity to secure a good-paying job with a living wage, enacting critical gun safety reforms and improving our education system so that every child can succeed."
Members of the Maryland Congressional Delegation have let Gov. Larry Hogan know their concerns regarding the Purple Line Project, a public transit project mired in construction delays and legal disputes. In a letter to Hogan and Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Secretary Greg Slater, the Democratic delegation, including U.S. Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, as well as Reps. Steny Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Kweisi Mfume, Anthony Brown, Jamie Raskin, and David Trone expressed concern for the disruptions the project was causing Maryland businesses and communities. The delegation asked Hogan to resolve the project’s ongoing issues, finish construction, and answer several questions surrounding the project.... The delegation also asked the governor to respond with how he intends for his administration to move forward as MDOT takes ownership of the project from the PLTP.