In The News
The House of Representatives passed the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act Thursday afternoon. The bill, first introduced by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in September, was approved by a 230 to 192 vote. Pelosi's drug-pricing plan, would allow the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary to directly negotiate drug prices with manufacturers and establish a ceiling price of no more than 120% of the volume-weight average price of the Average International Market price. The bill also includes language that would cap out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs available under Medicare Part D, decrease the government reinsurance for catastrophic spending down to 20%, and increase health plan responsibility to 50%.... "House Democrats have taken a tremendous step forward in fulling our promise to reduce prescription drug prices for Americans across the country and lower out-of-pocket costs for seniors," Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., said in a statement.
As the Democratic Primary kicks into high gear, it is increasingly clear that 2020 could give America a choice that it has not had since Richard Nixon resigned: An election that promises critical change to our political system. At least 7 of the remaining candidates in the Democratic primary have committed to making fundamental government reform their first priority in office. We have not been this close to real change of America's politics since the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It is therefore time that the candidates' plans -- and how they differ --become the focus of more media attention. Michael Bennet, Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang have promised both to make this reform happen, and to happen first. This itself is a first in the history of American politics. The inspiration, in part, for this movement is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Many of these candidates are following the template of HR 1 or the "For the People Act of 2019." In the lead-up to the 2018 election, Pelosi's colleague, Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), convinced her and the Democratic leadership to make political reform the priority in 2019, if indeed the Democrats won control of the House. Pelosi delivered on her promise, passing H.R. 1 in March this year. But as important as the substance of that bill is, the title is even more important -- by denominating the bill as first, Pelosi said what reformers have been insisting upon for decades now: that we must fix democracy before democracy can sensibly address America's problems.
Rep. John Sarbanes said Wednesday that Democrats are largely united behind the two articles of impeachment announced Tuesday. "As I think you've heard many Dems say, it's not an action that we take lightly, but I think our constitutional oath of office requires us to stand up in this way," the 3rd District Democrat told Bryan Nehman. "And if you look at the president's conduct, this idea that you would put your own personal and political fortunes ahead of the national security interests really does represent an abuse of the office of the presidency, and it's not something that we can leave unchecked." ... He said taking action on the claims against Trump can't wait for next year's election. "They actually have to do with interference in the election and, therefore, you have to worry about, if he goes unchecked and he doesn't think he did anything wrong, apparently, is [if] he going to go and engage in that behavior going forward in a way that puts a free and fair election at risk," Sarbanes said. "If he doesn't get removed, there's an election and the people go into the jury box and they render the verdict on this president."
On Jan. 3 of this year, the first day of the 116th U.S. Congress, the new Democratic majority in the House introduced as its first bill a sweeping reform of the country's elections. H.R. 1, the For the People Act, a bold package of measures aimed at improving voting access, tackling Big Money's corrupting influence in politics, and bolstering ethics rules. The Washington Post called it "perhaps the most comprehensive political-reform proposal ever considered by our elected representatives." The wide-ranging bill, expertly led to passage in the House by lead sponsor Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Maryland) and endorsed by a broad coalition including the Communications Workers of America, NAACP, and Sierra Club, was inspired by a key insight: that in the current political moment, marked by deep voter cynicism about corruption and rigged elections, piecemeal reforms aren't enough. What is needed, Sarbanes and other Democrats reasoned, is a far-reaching plan that outlines how all aspects of democracy can work better, and only a bill that tackles voting rights, Big Money, and ethics reform together could offer that larger vision. “What we're trying to accomplish is responding to the appetite we've seen out in the electorate and among the public for real change in Washington," Sarbanes said after H.R. 1 passed the House in March. "People really want us to clean up politics. They want to fight corruption. They want to unrig this system.”
Three members of Maryland’s congressional delegation have signed on as co-sponsors to new legislation that would commit the U.S. to achieve a 100% clean energy economy by 2050. Democratic Reps. Jamie Raskin, John P. Sarbanes and David J. Trone are among the more than 150 co-sponsors of the bill, which was floated this week by Rep. Don McEachin (D-Va.). McEachin’s bill, which has the backing of national environmental groups, has been in the works for months. It would require economy-wide net-zero greenhouse gas emissions; it would also direct federal agencies to draft plans to clamp down on emissions that contribute to climate change.
Baltimore County has won a federal grant award to support the launch of a Towson Circulator pilot. The $1.65 million award was announced by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes. The grant was requested by County Executive Johnny Olszewski’s administration in an effort to create innovative transportation options for Baltimore County residents. In his Fiscal Year 2020 Budget, Olszewski included funds to begin planning a Towson Circulator pilot, with plans to expand to other communities. The award, announced as part of a nearly $14 million federal, statewide investment, will support the purchase of new buses and infrastructure for the Towson Circulator.
On Thursday, officials announced that Baltimore County has won a federal grant award to support the launch of a Towson Circulator pilot. The $1.65 million award, announced today by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes, was requested by County Executive Johnny Olszewski’s administration as it seeks to create innovative transportation options for Baltimore County residents…. “We are excited to announce this federal investment to help kick-start the Towson Circulator, which will provide a new, much-needed transit option to downtown Towson and the surrounding community. Maintaining a safe, reliable and convenient public transit system is critical to Baltimore County and we will continue working to expand and modernize transportation systems throughout Maryland,” the lawmakers said.
Speaking at the Ninth Annual St. Andrew’s Human Rights and Religious Freedom Reception on Capitol Hill, Director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights David L. Phillips addressed the subject of “Turkey’s Targeting of Ethnic and Religious Minorities in Syria,” reported the Armenian Assembly of America. “I want to thank David for coming and taking part in this event. His outstanding scholarship in this area and his experience as a practitioner of diplomacy and foreign policy is well-documented,” Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD) said in his welcome statement. “We are doing it this year in the leg of this incredible and terrible assault by Turkey into northern Syria. And while it makes these issues very raw and ripe, what David will be speaking to in terms of the targeting of ethnic and religious minorities in Syria is something that is a longstanding problem when you look at Turkey and the behavior of this president,” the Congressman added.
A number of community leaders gathered together Nov. 7 for the signing of the Fort Meade Community Covenant. The covenant is the guiding document for signatories who “commit in the spirit of collaboration to build relationships, identify and combine resources, and address critical needs,” according to the document…. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, representing the 2nd Congressional District, and Rep. John Sarbanes, representing the 3rd Congressional District, addressed the crowd and signed the covenant along with several Maryland state delegates and county elected officials.