In The News
Democratic lawmakers asked Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt on Wednesday to disclose procedures to prevent billionaire Carl Icahn from influencing U.S. biofuels policy for personal gain…. The letter is the latest in a string of missives from Democrats concerned about Icahn's dual role as a special adviser to President Donald Trump on regulation and as a major investor in heavily regulated industries…. Signing the letter were Reps. Frank Pallone, the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee; Bobby Rush; Diana DeGette; Paul Tonko; and John Sarbanes.
The Trump administration has ignored hundreds of congressional letters of inquiry…. It is also brandishing a legal opinion, crafted by the Justice Department, holding that most of Congress lacks the constitutional power to conduct oversight of the executive branch…. It isn't just an attack on Democrats, currently the minority party in both chambers on Capitol Hill…. Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., contrasts the administration's position with Trump's "drain the swamp" rhetoric last fall. He told NPR, "They certainly put an emphasis, with this idea of draining the swamp, on accountability and transparency. But so far, they seem to have moved in the complete opposite direction."
The Trump administration has found an issue that infuriates both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, a move that would limit Congress's ability to monitor the executive branch. NPR's Peter Overby reports…. OVERBY: Still, Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes said House Democrats have seen almost all of their letters get ignored by the Trump administration, a contrast to last year's campaign rhetoric…. JOHN SARBANES: They certainly put an emphasis, with this idea of draining the swamp, on accountability and transparency. But so far, they seem to have moved in the complete opposite direction.
Maryland’s Democratic members of the House of Representatives have joined the chorus of environmental advocates urging Gov. Larry Hogan (R) to denounce President Trump’s climate policies, including his decision this month to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement…. The seven lawmakers sent a letter to Hogan on Thursday, two days before he is scheduled to begin a week-long trade mission to London and Paris, asking him to “vocally and forcefully reject” Trump’s actions…. The letter to Hogan was signed by Reps. Anthony G. Brown, Elijah E. Cummings, John Delaney, Steny H. Hoyer, Jamie B. Raskin, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes. Rep. Andy Harris, the only Republican in the state’s congressional delegation, did not add his name to the list.
Democratic members of Maryland’s congressional delegation called on Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday to “forcefully reject” President Donald J. Trump’s decision this month to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement…. In a letter sent days before Hogan, a Republican, is set to embark on a trade mission to London and Paris, the federal lawmakers wrote that Maryland should play a “consequential role” in upholding the goals of the international climate pact…. The letter Thursday was signed by Reps. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Anthony G. Brown, Steny H. Hoyer, John K. Delaney, Elijah E. Cummings and Jamie Raskin.
In the special election to be decided next Tuesday between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District, high-dollar donors and outside groups have pushed spending to just under $40 million, a House record…. In municipal elections now unfolding in Seattle, by contrast, housing activist Jon Grant is collecting campaign contributions from a very different source — the city’s homeless encampments. Homeless donors are helping power Grant’s campaign for city council thanks to a new public financing program that gives every Seattle voter four vouchers worth $25 each…. Such is the dichotomy between the federal campaign-finance system, where unrestricted money reigns supreme, and the experiments in publicly funded, citizen-powered elections that are popping up around the country in cities, states, and municipalities like Seattle, Maine, and Montgomery County, Maryland…. No one expects action any time soon, however, on the leading campaign-finance bill on Capitol Hill, authored by House Democrat John Sarbanes, of Maryland—though Sarbanes does have more than 150 co-sponsors.
Democrats continue to try and push President Trump and his administration to end the myriad conflicts of interest that are entangling the president and his family…. The hotel has become "the symbol of complete disregard for the lines of ethics, the boundaries of ethics, the conflicts of interest" in the Trump administration, says Democratic Rep. John Sarbanes. "I think it's something that resonates in people's minds, and frankly every day you see people trying to curry favor with the administration – booking receptions and other kinds of things at the hotel." … Unlike every other modern president, Trump has refused calls to put his assets in a blind trust. His son, Eric, has also said he plans to keep giving his father profit reports on the family's sprawling global business enterprise, which Democrats say is the very definition of a conflict of interest for a sitting president whose every tweet, proposed policy and speech can move global markets…. "It's breathtaking," Sarbanes says. The administration passes "an ethical policy that has so many waivers in place that it swallows it up and completely negates it. They say they're going to observe certain lines – but in the next breath almost, they demonstrate that they have no concept of what those lines and boundaries are."
Former Fulbright scholars are not the type to shy away from a fight. Their ranks include dozens of Nobel and Pulitzer prizewinners, geniuses recognized as MacArthur Foundation fellows, and almost 60 foreign Fulbrights who went on to become heads of state…. Now, the program’s funding is facing what its alumni association calls an existential threat from a 47 percent cut proposed by the Trump administration, one of many sharp reductions in the State Department budget. And over 100,000 former Fulbright scholars, among them several members of Congress, are being asked to lobby for not only full funding but also a small increase…. Among the more effective lobbyists for the Fulbrights are the three members of Congress who themselves are alumni…. “The symbolism of what the Fulbright program has meant over many years, decades now, is something we need to hold on to and preserve,” said Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), who studied law and politics in Greece on a Fulbright scholarship and signed a letter urging House appropriators to keep its funding strong…. “One of the important ways of exercising soft power is public diplomacy. Within the public diplomacy realm, you can’t find a program that is more critical, more successful or more respected than the Fulbright Program.”
Congressman John Sarbanes, Senator Chris Van Hollen and a host of other federal elected officials say they have a bone to pick with President Donald Trump…. Sarbanes, the chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force claims the new presidential administration is very good at avoiding information requests and he has outlined dozens if not hundreds of instances where the administration has simply ignored information requests…. “The Trump administration’s refusal to respond to basic information requests . . . is an assault on our Constitutional system of checks and balances,” Sarbanes said…. Sarbanes says there is a bit of partisan rancor to the administration’s inability to answer inquiries and at the same time believes the president is not only overwhelmed and understaffed, but inadequately staffed to boot…. “I’m still waiting for a plan in any traditional sense on any issue,” Sarbanes said Tuesday. “This entire administration is a series of giant head fakes.”
House Democrats pushed the Trump administration on Monday to acknowledge officially if it has instated a new policy not to respond to oversight requests from Congress unless they are signed by senior Republicans…. The office of Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), who chairs a Democracy Reform Task Force, has tracked about 275 unanswered Democratic request letters since President Trump’s inauguration in January…. Sarbanes's office tallied 118 unanswered oversight requests from three days after the inauguration to March 17 alone.