In The News
Members of Maryland's congressional delegation are again asking the postmaster general for answers. Reps. Kweisi Mfume, John Sarbanes and others sent a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.... Mfume and Sarbanes are on the Oversight and Reform Committee. Its members also want answers about another troubling issue: The deaths caused by COVID-19 of more than 100 postal employees and more than 16,000 in quarantine. The committee's members want to know what proactive steps the U.S. Postal Service is taking to protect workers from COVID-19 health risks. "We want to understand from the postmaster general, what's the plan here to deal with this crisis in terms of the impact of the pandemic?" Sarbanes said. The congressmen said they also wonder about changes being implemented to make the post office run more like a business. "This is not the time. The postal service is already operating under a lot of duress because of the pandemic. He needs to back up and have something that's more stable to offer," Sarbanes said.
Trump’s departure from the White House may have effectively terminated the case against him, but we still secured a significant victory: Judge Peter J. Messitte of the Maryland federal district court ruled in 2018, the year after we filed suit, that the Constitution forbids the president from receiving anything of value from a foreign or domestic government.... Now Congress must build upon that to broadly preclude future presidential conflicts and self-dealing.... The struggle to defend the Constitution during the Trump era yielded the bitter realization that too many of the guardrails upholding our democracy are untested or unenforceable. As three participants in that effort, we believe it would be irresponsible for the country to move past this period without action to address these vulnerabilities. Congress and the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris Administration must work together to reinforce the checks on a rogue president and build stronger controls into the system. Fortunately, Congress is reportedly set to consider legislation in the weeks ahead—the landmark HR1-SB1 package, sponsored by Congressman John Sarbanes and Senator Jeff Merkley—that offers several badly-needed reforms to protect the public from a corrupt president. Known as the “For the People Act of 2021,” the legislation applies the same sort of tough ethics rules that apply to executive branch appointees to the president. Our litigation made it abundantly clear that a president can slip through many current loopholes to evade accountability. Chief among them: The president is not bound by the same ethics rules and conflicts rules that other public officials must follow and is not subject to any real requirements regarding transparency. Sarbanes’ and Merkley’s bill heightens disclosure requirements around financial entanglements and requires the president and vice president to divest from ties that pose a potential conflict. This one-two punch offers a model approach to preventing presidential corruption, combining tough, enforceable rules on divestiture with greater transparency. In the Trump years, the American people were often left wondering whether the president was acting to benefit his own bottom line rather than their well-being. These proposals would fix that, making it easier for the public and the courts to hold a corrupt president accountable. The legislation also builds additional, automatic anti-corruption safeguards into the White House.... Finally, the legislation would make it a legal requirement that all candidates for president and vice president must disclose their tax returns for the 10 years preceding their run for office. The public should not have to rely on presidential goodwill or leaks to the press to understand how candidates made their money—or, for that matter, how much they’ve paid in taxes. With this law, all candidates would understand they must trade some degree of financial privacy for the privilege of campaigning for the people’s trust. To ensure that no future president can profit from the office as Trump did, Congress should also pass a law enforcing the emoluments prohibition. To avoid any doubt about how to deal with a rogue president like Trump, the law should codify Judge Messitte’s ruling—specifically that the Emoluments Clauses refer to anything of value. Turning that strong template into a statute—limiting the receipt of foreign or domestic emoluments—would shut off any spigot of money flowing from foreign or domestic governments into the president’s coffers.
Maryland lawmakers are urging leaders of the United States Postal Service (USPS) to fix mail delivery problems they say continue to plague the USPS well after the holiday rush has ended. In a letter sent out on Friday, the full Maryland congressional delegation including U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Steny Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Kweisi Mfume, Andy Harris, Anthony Brown, Jamie Raskin, and David Trone, pushed for USPS officials to investigate and revolve what they are calling widespread delivery delays.... "Packages have been delayed while mail has been delivered to the wrong addresses or not delivered at all," the letter from the congressional delegation said. "These problems have not subsided since the end of the holiday season. In fact, we have heard increasingly urgent stories from more and more constituents throughout the past month." The delegation said the problems are contributing to late fees after bills are being delayed and are causing the hold up of checks and economic stimulus payments. The letter also states delays in delivering pharmaceuticals are having a devastating effect on patient care.
Complaints about slow mail delivery continue to pile up as Maryland lawmakers pressure the head of the U.S. Postal Service to do something about the delays. Members of Maryland's congressional delegation sent Postmaster General Louis DeJoy a letter with a list of complaints they’ve from constituents, and asked the postmaster general to fix the problem. The letter is signed by.... John Sarbanes.
The Democratic members of Maryland’s congressional delegation called Wednesday on Gov. Larry Hogan to improve the rollout of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign, citing frustration from constituents and local officials about inefficiency and inequity. In a letter addressed to the Republican governor, the members said Maryland should make a “course correction” on the distribution process, including offering a centralized, one-stop state website and a phone number accessible to all Marylanders to help them register for appointments; more coordination by the Maryland Department of Health with local health departments; and specificity about the order in which vaccines should be administered among eligible groups. U.S. senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin signed the letter, along with representatives Anthony Brown, Steny Hoyer, Kweisi Mfume, Jamie Raskin, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes and David Trone.
The Washington region’s congressional delegation is supporting a bill that would stabilize Metro capital funding for a decade, saying it also would strengthen accountability within the transit agency. The Metro Accountability and Investment Act would provide the transit agency with $1.73 billion between 2022 and 2031. It would reauthorize the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, which provided Metro with a decade’s worth of annual federal funding before it expired in 2018 and was not renewed. Since then, lawmakers have been approving capital funding for Metro on an annual basis. The bill, which will be introduced by Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), would end that annual approval.... Connolly said the bill is backed by the region’s Democratic congressional delegation and is co-sponsored by D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), Reps. John Sarbanes, Jamie B. Raskin, Anthony G. Brown and David Trone of Maryland, and Reps. Don Beyer and Jennifer Wexton of Virginia.
Baltimore’s Morgan State University is diving into the issue of microplastics in the Chesapeake Bay, thanks to a nearly $1 million federal grant. Morgan State is Maryland’s largest Historically Black University, a research institution along Herring Run in Northeast Baltimore, which leads into Back River. The $999,999 funding, announced by lawmakers U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, and Kweisi Mfume (all D-Md.), focuses on microplastics’ impact on marine ecosystems, with the Chesapeake Bay serving as a model..... “This new federal grant funding will help Morgan State University lead the way in microplastics pollution research and accelerate aquatic cleanup efforts. It’s a clear win-win – helping us to improve the health of the Bay while investing in the capabilities of our researchers at Morgan State,” said the lawmakers in a joint statement.
H.R.1, also known as the “For the People Act,” is a sweeping reform bill that aims to make voting easier, gerrymandering harder, and generally rein in the out-of-control minoritarianism that has come to characterize American democracy. Does it have a chance of becoming law? Rep. John Sarbanes, political scientist Jacob Hacker, and The Intercept’s Jon Schwarz join Ryan Grim to discuss.
The recent article, “After record voter turnout, Republican-led states that flipped for Biden are working to change voting rules” (Jan. 31), is alarming, and it shows just how far many Republicans are willing to go in their anti-democratic fervor. This is revealed in their proposals such as eliminating “no-excuse absentee voting,” requiring “mail ballots to be notarized,” having “mail-in ballots be hand-delivered” and allowing “lawmakers to overturn presidential election results.” These are designed to impede citizens from voting and disrupt the election process. We should all be able to agree that fair, open and honest elections are vital to our democracy and that having 50 states and multiple counties with different systems is confusing and irresponsible. There is a better way this can be done while recognizing the Constitutional role states play. Introduced by Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes, House Resolution 1 (For the People Act of 2021) sets up rules for voting modernization (including requiring paper ballots), blocking foreign interference, supporting Uniformed Service voting, cybersecurity, and campaign finance transparency. No one wants to see the recurrence of the anger, accusations and vitriol that marked this last election. We want citizens to participate in the process, knowing that all votes will be obtained and counted fairly. To get there, it’s time to update our election process on a national basis. HR1 does that, it’s worthy of our attention and support.