Congressman John Sarbanes at the announcement of 2023 Chesapeake WILD grant recipients. (Photo: Courtesy of Congressman John Sarbanes)
WASHINGTON, DC – Greek-American U.S. Congressman John Sarbanes shared his year in review and 2023 legislative accomplishments on December 21. His full statement follows.
As 2023 comes to an end, I wanted to reflect on what we accomplished this year. Delivering exceptional constituent services has always been a top priority and I am pleased that my office was able to resolve nearly 2,500 issues with federal agencies for constituents this year. We also prioritized the passage and implementation of legislation that will make a tangible difference in the lives of Marylanders:
Lowering Costs for Families
I am proud to have authored the law that established the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF), which forgives the remaining federal student loan debt of borrowers who complete ten years of public service. As the result of President Biden’s implementation improvements, thousands of hardworking borrowers have seen their loans forgiven and millions more have lowered their monthly payments and gotten closer to eliminating their student debt this year.
This year, the Inflation Reduction Act has helped 15 million Americans save an average of $800 on health insurance – in addition to saving seniors money on health care by capping out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $35/month and providing free vaccines to Medicare beneficiaries.
Marylanders are also now eligible for Inflation Reduction Act tax credits that will make it easier and more affordable to upgrade to more efficient appliances, purchase an electric vehicle, install residential clean energy systems and save money on their energy bills.
Thanks to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Maryland’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) received more than $74 million to help families reduce costs associated with energy bills and crises, weatherization and energy-related repairs.
Protecting the Bay
After years of work and public engagement, I introduced the Chesapeake National Recreation Area Act alongside Senator Van Hollen to provide more federal resources for environmental conservation, foster sustainable and equitable access to the Chesapeake Bay, and spur economic growth in the watershed region.
To further protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed, improve ecosystem management and increase environmental stewardship opportunities, I reintroduced the bipartisan Chesapeake Bay SEEE Act – which passed out of the House Committee on Natural Resources this year.
The Greenbury Point Conservation Area is a critical wildlife refuge and cherished natural recreation area for Maryland residents and visitors. I worked hard to secure a provision in this year’s defense bill that prohibits the Navy from restricting public access to Greenbury Point.
I also reintroduced the bipartisan, bicameral No Child Left Inside Act to bolster existing environmental education programs and expand locally developed, high-quality environmental education programs to more schools nationwide.
Working across the Aisle
The House of Representatives passed my bipartisan legislation requiring hospital-based health care providers to use unique identifiers for each provider-based facility. This bill will help reduce costs for the Medicare program and will ultimately result in lower health care costs for seniors.
Earlier this month, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce also unanimously passed my bill to increase data transparency in the Medicare Advantage marketplace so that seniors can better understand their benefits and choose the right plans for them.
To tackle the largest source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed, I co-led the bipartisan introduction of the Chesapeake Bay Conservation Acceleration Act, which will boost voluntary conservation efforts to help achieve water quality goals, increase soil health and provide economic benefits to the 83,000 farms in the region.
I also reintroduced the bicameral, bipartisan Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act to establish clear digital accessibility standards and make websites and software applications more accessible to Americans with disabilities.
We’ve accomplished a lot in 2023, but we still have more to do – and that starts with ensuring every American has a voice and a vote in our democracy. This year, I was proud to lead the full Democratic Caucus in reintroducing our top legislative priority, the Freedom to Vote Act, to improve access to the ballot box, strengthen safeguards against potential election subversion, end partisan gerrymandering and combat the influence of dark money in our politics.
As you may know, I announced recently that I will not seek reelection in 2024, but I still have another year until my term ends. During that time, I will keep working hard to address the issues that are top of mind to Marylanders and my office will continue to diligently assist constituents with casework requests. If you are experiencing an issue with a federal agency, please get in touch with my Columbia District Office at 410-832-8890.
Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy new year,
Since the opinions of our readers matter, the company ‘Opinion Poll’ is conducting, on behalf of The National Herald, a survey among Hellenes Abroad from Friday, February 23 to Sunday, March 3, regarding their opinions on postal voting for Greek elections, as well as on issues of general concern.
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