Ben Cardin has been a national leader on health care, retirement security, the environment and fiscal issues as a member of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Senator Cardin was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 and he was re-elected in 2012. He currently serves on the Environment and Public Works (EPW), Finance, Foreign Relations, and Small Business & Entrepreneurship committees. In the 113th Congress, he chairs the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee of EPW and he chairs the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee.
The Washington Post has said Ben Cardin has a “command of issues, proven integrity, formidable intellect and an unstinting work ethic,” and that he “is sensible, tough-minded and independent.” The Baltimore Sun has said, “He has been able to work both sides of the aisle” to help workers save for retirement and to champion the expansion of Medicare benefits.
In 2001, he was named by Worth Magazine as among the top “100 people who have influenced the way Americans think about money.” In 2004, he was named to Treasury and Risk Management’s list of “100 Most Influential People in Finance.” In the 110th Congress, he received a grade of “A” from the NAACP and a score of 100 from the Human Rights Campaign. Since 2008, Senator Cardin has received a 100% rating from the League of Conservation Voters.
In the 111th Congress, Senator Cardin was successful in getting a guaranteed dental benefit included in the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The America Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) included his amendments to provide first-time homebuyers with an $8,000 tax credit, which was later extended through April 2010. He authored legislation to permanently raise the surety bond guarantee limit from $2 million to $6.5 million, which includes an adjustment for inflation.
Support for the Chesapeake Bay has been one of Senator Cardin’s signature issues. In the 111th Congress, he authored the Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act to reduce pollution and improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay through strong new enforcement tools and new grant authority. He also is a strong advocate for strengthening clean water protections, supporting increased funding for both traditional and innovative water infrastructure that can protect water quality.
As a member of the Finance Committee in the 112th Congress, Senator Cardin brings with him the expertise he developed in dealing with many of the same issues while serving on the Ways & Means Committee for 17 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. During that time, many of his financial proposals were enacted into law, including those dealing with retirement security, health care and job training.
From 1987-2006, Senator Cardin represented Maryland's Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition to serving on the on the House Ways & Means Committee, he also served on the Budget Committee, Public Works & Transportation Committee, Judiciary Committee, Ethics Committee, House Administration and the Select Committee on Homeland Security. In the House, he also served as the senior Democrat on the Trade Subcommittee and Human Resources Subcommittee of the Ways & Means Committee.
Senator Cardin also has a long-standing interest in foreign affairs and human rights. He has been a Commissioner on the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the U.S. Helsinki Commission) since 1993, serving as Chairman in the 111th and 113th Congresses and Senate Chairman in the 112th Congress. He also serves as Vice President of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly. In the 113th Congress, he also is a member of the National Security Working Group monitoring arms control issues.
As a member of the House, his legislation to increase the amount Americans can save for retirement was enacted into law. His proposal to expand Medicare to include preventive benefits such as colorectal, prostate, mammogram, and osteoporosis screening was also enacted into law. He also authored legislation to fund graduate medical education, guarantee coverage for emergency health services, and improve the Medicare drug benefit for seniors.
In the House, he often was a voice for our most vulnerable citizens. He introduced legislation to help those leaving public assistance get the job training, education and childcare they need to work their way out of poverty. In 1999, his bill to increase education and support services for foster care children between ages 18 and 21 was signed into law. He also authored bills to expand child support, hold fathers accountable, improve the welfare-to-work program and increase the childcare tax credit.
In 1998, then-Congressman Cardin was appointed Chairman of the Special Study Commission on Maryland Public Ethics Law by the Maryland General Assembly. In 1997, he co-chaired the Bipartisan Ethics Task Force in an effort to reform ethics procedures in the U.S. House of Representatives.
As a Maryland legislator, Mr. Cardin served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1967-1986. He was Speaker from 1979-1986 and prior to that served as chairman of the Ways & Means Committee from 1974-1979. As Speaker, he reformed Maryland's property tax system, the school financing formula and the ethical standards for elected officials.
A 1967 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law (1st in his class), he earned his B.A. degree in 1964 from the University of Pittsburgh (cum laude). He also holds honorary degrees from the University of Baltimore School of Law (1990); University of Maryland at Baltimore (1993); Baltimore Hebrew University (1994); Goucher College (1996); and Stevenson (formerly Villa Julie College), (2007).
Committed to ensuring that all Americans have legal representation, Mr. Cardin served as chairman of the Maryland Legal Services Corp. from 1988-1995. He was appointed as a member of the Board of Trustees of The James Madison Fellowship Foundation in 2010. From 1988-1999, he served on the St. Mary’s College Board of Trustees, and in 2002 he was appointed to St. Mary’s Advisory Board, Center for Study of Democracy. He was a Trustee of the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs from 1999-2007, and in 2003 joined the Johns Hopkins University’s Institute for Policy Studies’ National Advisory Board. He served on the Goucher College Board of Trustees from 1999 to 2008. In 1998, he was appointed to the University of Maryland School of Law Board of Visitors, and in 1993, he was appointed to the UMBC President’s Board of Visitors. In 2007, he was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy’s Board of Visitors.
Senator Cardin is married to Myrna Edelman Cardin and his daughter Deborah and son-in-law Jonathan Willis have two daughters, Madeline and Julia.