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John P. Sarbanes

I have represented Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District in the House of Representatives since 2007. As a lifelong Marylander and one of the few members of Congress who has the opportunity to drive home every night, I hear directly from you in real time about your concerns and priorities.

Prior Experience

Before I was elected to Congress, I worked at the Maryland State Department of Education to make our school system the best in the country. As an attorney in private practice, I represented doctors, hospitals and other health care providers to build a high quality health care system. And I worked with organizations like the Public Justice Center to protect the environment and ensure equality and opportunity for all Marylanders.

While in Congress

In Congress, I sit on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where I serve as Vice- Chair of the Subcommittee on Health, and am a member of the Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. I’ve also chaired the Democracy Reform Task Force and co-chaired the bi-partisan Chesapeake Bay Task Force. I fight to keep our government transparent and accountable, ensure access to affordable health care, preserve the Chesapeake Bay and protect our planet from the dangerous threat of climate change.

I am proud of my record in Congress:

  • Keeping our communities healthy. I voted YES to lower healthcare premiums, invest in biomedical research, tighten food safety and strengthen our public health system.

  • Preserving our environment. I voted YES for an historic investment in Chesapeake Bay restoration and key funding for climate change initiatives that promote clean, affordable energy and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

  • Helping our small businesses. I voted YES to expand critical loan and grant programs that helped thousands of small businesses survive the pandemic.

  • Promoting public safety. I voted YES to support the local law enforcement agencies, crisis intervention teams and community groups that are working together to reduce gun violence, address opioid addiction and make our neighborhoods safer.

  • Fixing our infrastructure. I voted YES for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which is bringing hundreds of millions of dollars to Maryland to upgrade our roads, bridges and tunnels and expand capacity at the Port of Baltimore.

  • Serving our veterans. I voted YES to boost funding for mental health care services for our veterans and extend the reach of community-based VA clinics.

  • Supporting our seniors. I voted YES to enhance telehealth services for our seniors and ensure broad access to critical nutrition programs that help them stay healthy and active.

  • Lifting up our young people. I voted YES to strengthen Head Start, increase funding for child nutrition programs and school-based health centers, and provide resources for schools to navigate COVID.

Working for Civil Rights

The struggle for civil rights and human rights never ends. While we have made important progress in building a more just society, too many people still suffer unequal treatment in their quest to achieve the American dream and enjoy our country’s most basic freedoms. Congress should execute its full authority to remove barriers where they exist and ensure that all Americans are afforded equal rights and protections.

Congressman Sarbanes has co-sponsored key legislation that would update the 1965 Voting Rights Act, ensure equal access to the ballot for every eligible voter and modernize our voter registration system to increase participation. In 2015, on the 50th Anniversary of the March from Selma to Montgomery, Congressman John Sarbanes traveled to Alabama with the late John Lewis and a broad delegation to mark the occasion.

He has also supported legislation to root out discrimination and protect and promote the civil and human rights of all people. Congressman Sarbanes has co-sponsored the Equal Rights Amendment, the Equality Act and has voted for bills to end racial profiling and prevent hate crimes.

Working For Democracy

It’s time to reform our democracy and restore the voices of everyday Americans. Congressman Sarbanes was the proud sponsor of the For the People Act (H.R.1) which would strengthen American democracy and return political power to the people through voting protections, ethics reforms and campaign finance overhauls. In addition, he has co-sponsored a constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision and led on legislation to require all states to set up independent, non-partisan redistricting commissions.

Working for Economic Fairness

As a nation, we must address income inequality in a thorough and holistic manner and ensure our tax code reflects our nation’s values - encouraging private enterprise and innovation, strengthening communities and distributing the shared costs of government equitably. We must confront rising costs by holding large corporations accountable, increasing the minimum wage and enacting policies that make homeownership attainable for more Americans.

Through targeted investments in coronavirus relief legislation, we were able to lift up many individuals during a particularly challenging time. Congressman Sarbanes supported the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan, which together expanded unemployment benefits, provided direct economic assistance to individuals and families, enacted eviction and foreclosure moratoriums to keep people in their homes and made significant investments in child care and public health.

Congressman Sarbanes also voted for the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which provides over $550 billion in funding to upgrade our nation’s roads, bridges, public transit, ports, water infrastructure and more. This legislation, along with the recently passed federal budget bill, rises to our current economic challenges by putting Americans to work in good-paying jobs to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, creating equitable transportation options to connect all communities to economic opportunities and expanding broadband access to close the digital divide.

Congressman Sarbanes has also fought for increased workplace protections by cosponsoring legislation like the PRO Act to strengthen workers’ collective bargaining rights and voting for bills to end the unfair practice of forced arbitration for workplace sexual harrassment, sexual abuse or workplace discrimination claims. He also voted for the bipartisan America COMPETES Act, which will level the playing field for American workers and strengthen our nation’s overall position in the global economy.

Working for Education and Job Training

Education is the ticket to success for every aspiring young person. Every child deserves a safe, inclusive place to explore their passions and develop a lifelong love of learning. That is why Congressman Sarbanes is a strong supporter of early childhood development programs like Head Start and consistently supports strong funding for public education and teacher development programs.

For those who want to pursue higher education, we need to rein in the skyrocketing costs of tuition and provide grants and loans that will ease that burden. For those who seek the technical skills to launch a career, we must develop apprenticeships and other workforce training opportunities. Congressman Sarbanes authored the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Act, which provides reduced monthly payments and full forgiveness of federal student loans to graduates who devote ten years to public service. He consistently supports legislation to increase funding for the federal Pell Grant and other programs that help individuals from diverse backgrounds discover and attain their potential through higher education. In addition, Congressman Sarbanes has also supported legislation to streamline job-training programs and develop career and technical skills among secondary and postsecondary students.

Working for the Environment

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our day. Congress must work towards solutions that preserve our environment for the next generation and ensure a greener, healthier future for all Americans. We must move away from our dependence on fossil fuels and invest in clean, affordable energy. We also need to crack down on polluters, advance climate science research and invest in conservation projects and environmental justice efforts. Congressman Sarbanes has voted for legislation to help communities improve their resilience to a changing climate, reduce emissions and invest in sustainable energy development. He has also sponsored legislation to regulate chemicals that are hazardous to both human and environmental health.

In Maryland, we also have a special responsibility to preserve the Chesapeake Bay – the natural treasure that connects our communities and powers our regional economy. As a leader of the Chesapeake Bay Task Force, Congressman Sarbanes has spearheaded efforts in Congress to secure critical funding for conservation, restoration and recreation initiatives in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. This year’s bipartisan federal budget bill – passed with Congressman Sarbanes’ support – included historic investments to improve the health of the Bay, the species that live within it and the ecosystem of its surrounding communities. Congressman Sarbanes also authored the No Child Left Inside Act – which became law in 2016 – to promote outdoor learning and teach children to be environmental stewards.

Working for Gun Safety

Americans are exhausted with gun violence. They expect gun owners to exercise their ownership in a responsible and safe manner. That’s why the great majority, including a majority of gun owners, support common sense safety measures such as universal background checks and red flag laws. In recent years, too many communities have suffered the tragedy of mass shootings by people that should never have had a gun. We must do more to prevent high-powered, military-style firearms from getting into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. It’s high time that Congress stood up to the gun lobby and took steps to stem the terrible tide of gun violence in our country.

Congressman Sarbanes voted for the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which became law in June 2022. This legislation will save lives by strengthening background checks from individuals aged 18 - 21, closing a loophole to keep guns away from domestic abusers, creating a new federal offense for gun trafficking, supporting the implementation of state red flag laws and expanding mental health services. While this legislation represents an historic step to curbing gun violence, Congressman Sarbanes has supported H.R. 8 - legislation to require background checks for all firearm purchases, as well as additional reforms like raising the legal age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle, banning civilian use of high-capacity magazines and banning assault weapons.

In order to fully address gun violence, we must also treat it as the public health crisis it is. Congressman Sarbanes voted for legislation to lift the federal ban on gun violence research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2018 and consistently supports programs that support the law enforcement, crisis intervention teams and community organizations that work to prevent and respond to violence.

Working for Health

The foundation of good health is a clean environment. From there, we must also invest in public health, robust medical research and a health care system that provides access and coverage to every individual. Exploring new cures for disease at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and strengthening the Affordable Care Act are examples of key steps we can take to improve the health of all Americans.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Congressman Sarbanes has voted for legislation to provide critical protective equipment and mental health resources to health care workers and fund the equitable distribution of coronavirus tests and lifesaving vaccines. As we continue to work to recover from the pandemic, it will be critical to invest in rebuilding our public health infrastructure and make data driven decisions about how to best prepare for the next pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic also exacerbated our nation’s ongoing mental health and substance use crises. Congressman Sarbanes has supported legislation to provide robust funding for opioid treatment and prevention programs, and authored legislation, which became law in 2016, to allow co-prescribing of lifesaving naloxone to individuals who are at an elevated risk of an overdose. He has also sponsored legislation to strengthen critical mental and behavioral health programs for children.

Congressman Sarbanes is also working to ensure every individual can access high-quality, comprehensive and affordable health care. He is a cosponsor of the Medicare for All Act and has worked to secure strong funding for school-based health centers, which deliver primary, mental health and preventive services to children in convenient and safe settings. He is also a cosponsor of H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Prescription Drug Costs Now Act, which would lower high prescription drug prices by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices, capping out-of-pocket costs and holding pharmaceutical companies accountable by prohibiting unreasonable price increases. Congressman Sarbanes also voted for the Affordable Insulin Now Act, which would limit out-of-pocket costs for this life saving drug at $35 per month for those covered by Medicare or private health insurance.

Congressman Sarbanes strongly believes every individual - regardless of where they live - should be able to exercise their reproductive freedom and control their own health, life and future. He is a strong supporter of the Title X Family Planning Program and is proud to support the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify the fundamental right to abortion access, as well as the Access to Birth Control Act, which would remove barriers that prevent individuals from accessing contraception.

Working for Seniors

Our nation’s seniors have made and continue to make enormous contributions to our civic life and to the success and prosperity of our nation. Every day, they deploy their talent and experience through service and volunteerism. We owe it to them to keep Medicare premiums affordable and Social Security on pace with the cost of living. Congressman Sarbanes is a cosponsor of the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act, which would “scrap the cap” on wages that are subject to the Social Security payroll tax and thereby extend the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund by decades. It would also establish a new formula for computing the Cost of Living Adjustment for seniors so that it more fairly reflects their daily expenses. Congressman Sarbanes has also voted for legislation to provide greater flexibility in retirement options, safeguard retirees who unknowingly receive plan overpayments and eliminate provisions that unfairly reduce the Social Security benefits of millions of Americans who have devoted much of their careers to public service.

To strengthen health care benefits while lowering costs for seniors, Congressman Sarbanes has voted for legislation to preserve seniors’ access to their doctors, increase access to telehealth and home- and community-based health services and better support caregivers. He has also cosponsored H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, to lower the costs of prescription drugs by allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices for its beneficiaries, cap out-of-pocket expenses for seniors and restrict the pharmaceutical companies’ excessive price increases.

In addition to these efforts, Congressman Sarbanes is a champion of the Experience Corps Program - a partnership of the AARP Foundation and the Americorps Program - that nationally deploys 3000 senior volunteers into elementary schools to tutor reading. Baltimore boasts one of the largest chapters of Experience Corps in the nation. He has further supported legislation to increase federal nutrition services for seniors - including home-delivered meals, as well as voted for the emergency rental and mortgage relief and historic investments in safe, accessible and affordable housing options provided by the American Rescue Plan and the recently-passed bipartisan federal budget bill.

Working for Small Businesses on Main Street

Small business is the engine that drives much of our economy. But too often the concerns of small business owners and their employees are pushed aside in favor of big business and multinational corporations. When we make public policy in Washington, it should be designed to bolster the can-do spirit of start-up innovators, small businesses and entrepreneurs - not just the well-connected big business crowd. An economy focused on Main Street can generate economic opportunity for millions of Americans.

Congressman Sarbanes voted for relief legislation to provide small businesses and their employees with the resources necessary to withstand the coronavirus pandemic. He continues to fight for additional funding to help restaurants and other businesses that have been hit the hardest to recover from pandemic closures and confront ongoing economic challenges. Congressman Sarbanes has also supported legislation to bolster training and counseling programs - especially those that support veteran, women and minority owned businesses, assist small business development centers in providing apprenticeship and other job training programs, and improve the services of the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, which independently advocates for the interests of the small business community in the federal government.

Working for Veterans

America’s veterans fought to protect our country. They deserve every support we can offer to them and their families. That means streamlining the benefits process, ensuring that the VA health care system is delivering services in a timely and efficient way, and helping our returning veterans secure gainful employment.

Congressman Sarbanes was the original sponsor of the BRAVE Act (Benefit Rating Acceleration for Veteran Entitlements Act), which spurred federal officials to overhaul the review process so that veterans who receive a 100% service-connected disability rating from the Veterans Administration can secure their Social Security benefits on an expedited basis. He also helped establish the Veterans Service Corps as part of Americorps to enlist veterans in service to fellow veterans and military families as well as to the broader community. In 2015, Congressman Sarbanes participated in the first-in-the-nation ceremony awarding a VetCorps pin to veterans who are lifting up their communities everyday.

Congressman Sarbanes has also supported numerous initiatives to improve and expand veterans’ access to the high-quality, comprehensive health care services they deserve. He has voted for legislation to provide eligible veterans automatic enrollment in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care programs and increase support for mental health, substance use and suicide prevention services. Congressman Sarbanes was also proud to vote for the Honoring Our Promise to Address Toxics (Honoring Our PACT) Act, comprehensive, bipartisan legislation to extend VA health benefits to more than 3.5 million veterans who were exposed to toxics during their military service.

Working for Women’s Economic Empowerment

America has made great strides in ensuring that women and girls have equal access to opportunity, but there is much left to do. Women still only make 82 cents on the dollar compared to men, and that disparity is even greater for women of color. The United States lags many of our peer nations when it comes to providing mandatory sick leave and paid maternity leave. And a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices is under new and dangerous attack. Every legislator must be persuaded to fight for progress on these and other issues, but we can accelerate that progress by electing more women at all levels of government.

To begin to address these issues, Congressman Sarbanes voted for H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would promote equal pay for equal work by providing more effective remedies to individuals who have faced wage discrimination on the basis of sex. He has also supported several bills to expand workers’ access to paid leave programs, including H.R. 804, the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, to create a paid sick leave program funded by payroll taxes; H.R. 2465, the Health Families Act, to allow workers in businesses with 15 or more employees to earn up to seven job-protected paid sick leave days per year; and H.R. 564, the Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act, to grant federal employees 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave each year.