In The News
With their outsized campaign contributions, wealthy donors and special interests are buying access and favors with our elected officials. The vast majority of us can't afford to write these big checks, and we're being shut out and left behind. If we are serious about passing meaningful legislation that benefits the many, not the money, then we have to change the way our leaders are elected.
That's why I hope our member of Congress will co-sponsor the Government By the People Act. This important bill, introduced by Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland and supported by 151 other members of Congress (of both parties), would match small donations with limited public funds, ensuring that candidates have incentive to spend time with voters, not corporate bigwigs and lobbyists. That's the way our democracy is supposed to work. And it's how it can work again, once we pass the Government By the People Act.
U.S. Housing Secretary Julian Castro announced the grant during a back-to-school event hosted by the national Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI). The funding will help Baltimore address lead hazards in 230 housing units for low- and very low-income families and perform healthy home assessments in 330 units….
… Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, U.S. Reps. Elijah E. Cummings and John Sarbanes of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels and Baltimore author and civic activist Wes Moore were also at the event and stressed the need to make homes safer and healthier.
Members of Baltimore's congressional delegation are pressing Gov. Larry Hogan's administration for detail about how much money the state will save by ditching the Red Line project, and why none of those savings are headed for transportation projects in the city.
In a letter to the governor's office Thursday, five members of Congress -- all Democrats -- have asked the Republican governor how much federal money the state plans to forgo by canceling the Red Line and also how the state intends to fund other projects it has planned for Baltimore transit in coming years.
The letter was signed by Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin as well as Reps. Elijah E. Cummings, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes. It came days after state Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn met with local and federal officials on the issue.
Rep. John Sarbanes, a Democrat whose district includes Annapolis near the Chesapeake Bay, voiced strong support for the plan. He said the political consensus must catch up with the scientific consensus.
“The city of Annapolis expects nearly 50 flooding events every year, up from an average of four flooding events just 50 years prior,” Sarbanes said. “And according to a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, the city should expect flooding events to occur every single day of the year by 2045.”
House Democrats on Friday hosted a climate-change forum at the campus to encourage greater urgency from Congress in addressing the issue.
“One way of lighting the fire under our colleagues in Washington is to point out to them that the Defense Department and the military are concerned about this at the most fundamental level,” Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) said after the event.
"Unfortunately, sometimes in Washington, politics take over this conversation," said Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Baltimore County.
"It is good to be able to get out into the community ... where you do find a consensus that is a priority that needs to be addressed."
The forum featured four ranking Democrats of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Maryland Congressional Delegation. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J.; Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., and Sarbanes represented the energy committee.
The Pentagon views climate change as a global threat to national security. Carter, now the superintendent at the Naval Academy, told a group of congressmen Friday not only about the challenges he faced on that deployment with the Enterprise strike group, but also how he is dealing with the prospect of rising sea levels and floods as the leader of the elite school for future Navy and Marine Corps officers.
"Annapolis is really on the front lines," said Rep. John Sarbanes, a Democrat whose district includes the city. "There's no question this is the challenge of our generation."
Carter joined Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantiledes, a Republican, and two environmentalists to talk about the local impact of rising sea levels. The state capital, perched on the Chesapeake Bay, is especially vulnerable to flooding, recent studies show.
Whenever’s there’s any discussion of public financing of elections, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell likes to call it “welfare for politicians.” How much thought have you put into marketing this?
SARBANES: A lot.
I say to the public: “Somebody’s going to own your government. It’s not going to just sit there unattended. It’s either going to be owned by special interests and big money, in which case when it comes to making policy that’s who we’ll work for. Or it’s going to be owned by you. And in America, if you want to own something, you’ve got to pay for it.”
So why do we need your idea for campaign finance reform?
SARBANES: Most people are sitting there in their kitchens, and they’re watching cable television, and it seems like every day there’s more news about big money, Super PACs, multi-billion dollar presidential campaigns. And the average person is looking at that and saying, “This is crazy, where do I fit into this? How do I possibly have any kind of role to play or any voice that could match what those other players have?”
And that’s where we come along and say: “Well, actually here’s a system that can give you some power, that can make you a player.” And I think if you offer that to people, they’ll say, “Okay, I don’t have to just be a spectator in my own democracy anymore. I can actually go on the field and play the game.” I think this is a very hopeful message.
If our only hope is to amend the Constitution — which requires first a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate and then approval from three-fourths of the 50 state legislatures — then it feels like we’re doomed.
But what if there were a way to approach this hellish problem from the opposite direction? If we’re forbidden by the Supreme Court from limiting money coming from the 0.01 percent, what about amplifying money from the bottom 99.99 percent?
That’s the basis for the Government by the People Act, introduced last year by Rep. John Sarbanes, a Democrat from Maryland’s 3rd District.