In The News
In November, the American people elected Democrats to take back the reins of power in the House of Representatives and put it back to work on their behalf. In our first 100 days in the majority, we have begun to deliver on that promise…. In the first days of the 116th Congress, House Democrats moved swiftly to implement new rules to make the legislative process more open and transparent and hold elected officials to higher ethics standards. In the weeks that followed, led by Rep. John Sarbanes and many of our freshmen, Democrats passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act. This major legislation puts power back into the people's hands by ending the unrestricted influence of big money in our politics, promoting national redistricting reform, and requiring new standards of transparency from those who serve in government. The legislation also broadens access to the ballot box, with automatic voter registration and expanded early voting.
Debate continues this week over regulating the internet. The house is expected to vote this week on the Save the Internet Act, which would restore net neutrality. A vote against the bill would leave the control of the internet in the hands of the isp companies. In this month's Your Voice segment Representative John Sarbanes joins Fox45 to talk about net neutrality and the issues around the affordable care act.
U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes is to be applauded for leading a discussion this week on gun violence as a public safety concern. During a roundtable discussion at Anne Arundel Medical Center, there were some interesting ideas: making gun safety an issue for pediatricians to discuss with families, or pushing to make guns safer by making them less likely to be involved in accidental shootings. As advocates for more sensible rules on long gun sales have learned in this year’s General Assembly session, the political process is a difficult one to wield in addressing gun violence. It was disturbing earlier this year to see the annual assessment of county public health concerns ignore gun violence. We previously have suggested more information on gun violence is a crucial step toward any efforts to gain consensus. Discussions such as the one Monday are helpful. They should continue by leaders of the government agencies responsible for public health.
A group of politicians, community leaders, law enforcement, gun control advocates and public health officials gathered at Anne Arundel Medical Center Monday to talk about gun violence as a public health crisis and concluded that change starts with more productive conversations. The key to advancing that conversation and finding common ground, those gathered for the roundtable hosted by U.S Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) said, could be focusing on safety — as was the case with cars in the past…. An approximately one-hour roundtable discussion can only scratch the surface of a problem as diverse and complex as gun violence. And at the beginning of the meeting of minds, Sarbanes said he wanted to know what he should bring back to Congress…. Sarbanes called the discussion “extremely helpful” in closing. He said he’d returned to Washington armed with new ideas and that he’ll push for those on the opposite ends of the spectrum to come together over the idea of gun safety. “I think there’s real opportunity there,” he said.
Maryland’s congressional delegation has introduced legislation to honor the life of Henrietta Lacks by examining access to cancer clinical trials and how it affects traditionally underrepresented groups. In a news release, U.S. Representatives Elijah Cummings, Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes joined Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin in introducing the “Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act….” Before Lacks died of cervical cancer in 1951, doctors treating the Baltimore resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital took her cells without her consent. Those cells were then turned into the “HeLa” cell line, which has become famous for being “immortal” and for being used to develop treatment for cancer, HIV and Parkinson’s disease. The delegation wrote that black females have the highest death rates among those diagnosed with cancer and that 20 percent of cancer clinical trials fail because of a lack of patient enrollment.
At a town hall meeting in Towson on Thursday night, two Baltimore-area congressmen emphasized their commitment to fighting climate change now that Democrats have the majority in the House of Representatives. More than 60 people attended the town hall in the Towson branch library to ask questions of Democratic Reps. John Sarbanes of District 3 and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of District 2…. Sarbanes and Ruppersberger each represent parts of Towson…. Many of the public’s questions were about the Green New Deal, an ambitious climate resolution spearheaded by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Sarbanes and Ruppersberger are both co-sponsors of the bill. Ruppersberger… was initially hesitant to sign on to the bill until he read a statement of support from Sarbanes and realized that, while details still need to be worked out, its goals — to curb greenhouse gas emissions, to secure jobs and access to food and health care — were things he supports…. One man who identified himself as a member of progressive group Indivisible Baltimore, asked whether Ruppersberger would sign a pledge not to knowingly accept campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies. Sarbanes has already signed the pledge…. Sarbanes said he hopes with Democrats in the majority in the House, they will be able to hold hearings and invite witnesses that convince Republicans to work with them to take action. “Now that we're in the majority, we can actually have hearings and bring forth witnesses that hopefully can be compelling to both Democrats and Republicans, and we can find our way to agreement on some serious legislation,” Sarbanes said. House Democrats are already introducing climate change legislation. On Wednesday, House Democrats introduced the Climate Action Now Act, a bill aimed at keeping the United States in the Paris Agreement, an international agreement to combat climate change. Cummings, Ruppersberger and Sarbanes are all co-sponsors. Sarbanes said he also expects bipartisan cooperation on restoring funding to the Chesapeake Bay, which President Donald Trump wants to cut by 90 percent. Sarbanes also plans to focus on putting pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory functions, which he said have been weakened under the Trump administration. “The first order of business is to let them know that they’re being watched now,” Sarbanes said. “And if their agenda is out of sync with what the public wants to see, and clearly it is, that they’re going to start feeling some real pressure.”
The sweeping anti-corruption bill House Democrats passed recently as the centerpiece of their platform has officially been introduced in the Senate — where it is certain to fail. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) is the lead sponsor of the For the People Act, the sprawling bill aimed at getting money out of politics and increasing transparency around donors, cracking down on lobbying, and expanding voting rights for Americans by implementing provisions like automatic voter registration…. The House bill was authored by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD)…. “To say to the public, from this point forward, if you give the gavel to lawmakers who are interested in being accountable to you, this is the kind of change you can expect to see,” said Sarbanes, the bill’s author and main sponsor in the House. “If you like this, give us a gavel in the Senate and give us a pen in the White House.”
Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) on Wednesday introduced the Senate version of the campaign finance, voting rights and ethics reform bill that House Democrats made their top priority. With all 47 Senate Democrats signed on as co-sponsors, Udall’s bill marks a newfound unanimity in the party in favor of establishing publicly financed congressional elections and dramatically expanding voting rights…. The bill is a near identical copy of the For The People Act (H.R. 1) passed by the House by a partisan vote split of 234-193 on March 8. It includes sweeping voting rights reforms that would re-enfranchise ex-felons, ban common voter suppression tactics and reduce barriers to voting across the country; campaign finance reforms that would create a system of publicly funded elections for congressional campaigns for the first time; and ethics reforms for the executive branch and Supreme Court. Despite, or because of, universal backing from Democrats, Udall’s bill is unlikely to move through the Senate.
For decades, majorities of Americans have favored swift, meaningful action on climate change. They understand that we must transition away from dirty fuels and toward clean, renewable energy. Yet despite this overwhelming support, Congress has repeatedly failed to act. This jarring disconnect between what the public wants to see and what Washington is prepared to deliver doesn’t just threaten the health and safety of everyone in our country—it undermines the very principle of representative democracy. The reason that Congress hasn’t acted is an open secret. Follow the trail of the millions of dollars in campaign contributions from corporate polluters over the years, and you’ll find countless lawmakers who’ve worked to block action on climate change…. That’s why the new House majority passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act — a bold suite of reforms that will transform our government and our political system for the better.