Congressman John Sarbanes has represented Maryland’s Third District in the United States Congress since 2007. The Third District spans portions of Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County, and Montgomery County.
In the House of Representatives, he has been appointed to the Committee on Energy and Commerce where he serves on the Subcommittee on Health and the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade.
Born and raised in Baltimore, Congressman Sarbanes and his family live in Towson, giving him the opportunity to drive home every night and hear from the people he serves. Listening to their concerns allows him to better represent Maryland and has shaped his work in the House of Representatives.
Fighting back against big money in politics
Congressman Sarbanes is committed to ending the reign of big money in our political system that has corroded our institutions of democracy. He believes it is past time we build a new paradigm for the financing of our elections that raises civic engagement and makes everyday Americans the most influential voices in our campaigns.
In an effort to fight back, Congressman Sarbanes has introduced the Grassroots Democracy Act. If enacted, the reform proposal would return our democracy to the people by amplifying the voices of everyday Americans, multiplying the power of grassroots donors, and providing people and the candidates they support with the tools to fight back against Super PACs and special interests.
Working to protect the environment
Marylanders have always had a strong tradition of environmentalism rooted in a passion for the Chesapeake Bay. Congressman Sarbanes has led efforts to clean up this natural treasure with a particular focus on empowering Bay watershed residents to become citizen stewards of the Bay and play an active role in restoring it.
The Congressman has also worked to expand environmental education opportunities for children around the country. His proposal, the No Child Left Inside Act, would support outdoor learning activities at both schools and non-formal environmental education centers, as well as teacher professional development and the creation of state environmental literacy plans.
Strengthening our health care system
As part of the development and implementation of the health reform law, Congressman Sarbanes has focused on ensuring sure there are enough health care professionals to provide quality care for all Americans. He authored legislation called the Physician Reentry Demonstration Program Act that would combat America’s shortage of primary care physicians by encouraging mid-career and retired or retiring physicians to return to practice. The legislation would provide training and financial assistance to physicians returning to medical practice in exchange for their service as a public health provider.
Giving students the tools they need to succeed
Congressman Sarbanes has worked to expand access to higher education by supporting financial assistance opportunities like the Pell Grant program. In 2008, he authored the law that created the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Option, which provides graduates with forgiveness of remaining student loan debt after 10 years of work in public service or the non-profit sector. The new law helps teachers, nurses, first responders and other public servants pay for college. It allows more people to follow their dreams in careers that are important and rewarding but not always particularly lucrative.
Life before Congress
Congressman Sarbanes graduated from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and studied law and politics in Greece on a Fulbright Scholarship. After graduating from Harvard Law School, he returned to Baltimore, where he clerked for Judge J. Frederick Motz on the federal district court and the following year began his law practice at Venable.
The Congressman spent 18 years at Venable, serving as Chairman of the firm’s health care practice for six. He represented non-profit hospitals and senior living providers in their mission to deliver high-quality health care to the people of Maryland. Working with public interest organizations like the Public Justice Center, Congressman Sarbanes championed efforts to protect the environment and ensure equality and opportunity for all Marylanders.
To help make Maryland’s public school system the best in the nation, Congressman Sarbanes also worked for the Maryland State Department of Education. He split his professional time between Venable and MSDE so that he could be involved in education policy even as he continued practicing law.
Since childhood, Congressman Sarbanes has attended the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation in Baltimore and he has also been active with his wife and children in the Bolton Street Synagogue. For more than twenty years, he served as a board member of the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies, which seeks to promote understanding and dialogue among people of different religious faiths.