Ben's Priority Legislation - 112th Congress
Throughout my career, I have been proud to be a national leader on health care, the environment, fiscal issues and retirement security, as well as civil rights. I continue to fight for legislation to provide clean and safe water for our communities; improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay; maintaining and strengthening quality, affordable health care for all Americans; enriching the sustainability and livability of our Maryland communities; and working to address the unique needs of Marylanders in all corners of our state.
This bill creates tough new criminal and civil penalties for those who create and distribute false and deceptive voting information and campaign literature.
This bill would create a program that would allow Americans to donate hotel reward points to members of the Armed Forces who are traveling to receive care through the military health system and their families.
This bill is designed to enforce the constitutional right to equal protection of the laws by eliminating racial profiling through changing the policies and procedures underlying the practice.
This legislation would allow local communities to improve their aging water infrastructure, helping to ensure clean, safe water for Americans, creating jobs and adapting to changing hydrological conditions.
This legislation would ensure that our nation’s highways and bridges receive the appropriate maintenance and repair to ensure safety and meet America’s transportation needs. Neglecting needed highway and bridge repairs exacerbates the decline of our roadways, adds to unsafe road conditions, and ultimately results in taxpayers incurring higher costs for roadway repairs.
This bill would encourage greater use of propane as an alternative transportation fuel by extending for five years Federal Alternative Fuel Tax Credits for propane used as a motor fuel, propane vehicles, and propane refueling infrastructure. Propane autogas is a reliable, domestically produced alternative fuel with lower greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline.
This bill seeks to sanction individuals responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of human rights in Russia. It would also protect individuals who expose illegal activity by officials of the Government of the Russian Federation as well as extend protection to those who advocate for freedom of expression, religion or other democratic principles.
This resolution reaffirms the commitment of the United States to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and reaffirms opposition to the inclusion of Hamas in a unity government unless it is willing to accept peace with Israel and renounce violence.
This legislation would repeal the prohibition against state use of toll revenues as a credit toward the non-federal state matching share requirement for Appalachian development highway projects. States would then be allowed to use toll revenues as a non-federal share match for the Appalachian Development Highway System, which serves as a critical link between the geographically isolated Appalachian region and major commercial corridors.
This bill would authorize funding over five years for nutria eradication efforts in Maryland and Louisiana and other coastal states, which include Delaware, Virginia, Oregon, North Carolina, and Washington. The nutria is a high-reproductive rodent species that has devastated wetlands in Maryland, Louisiana and other coastal states, turning them into barren mud flats that cannot be re-vegetated.
This bill would guarantee Medicare beneficiaries access to physical and occupational therapy and speech-language services by repealing the existing annual caps on these services. Arbitrarily capping these vital rehabilitation services would cause some beneficiaries to delay necessary care, force others to assume higher out-of-pocket costs, and disrupt the continuum of care for many seniors and persons with disabilities.
S.657 - National Blue Alert System (Lead Sponsor)
Similar to the Amber Alert system, this bill encourages, enhances, and integrates Blue Alert plans throughout the United States in order to disseminate information when a law enforcement officer is seriously injured or killed in the line of duty.
S. 538 – Reauthorization of the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (Lead Sponsor)
This bill promotes long-term conservation, education, research, monitoring, and habitat protection for more than 350 species of neotropical migratory birds – including the Baltimore Oriole -- that breed in North America in the summer and spend their winters in tropical climates south of our border.
S. 488 – Reducing Excessive Interest Payment Act (Lead Sponsor)
This bill would prohibit banks and other lenders from charging interest payments through the end of the month on loans that have been paid off earlier. Currently, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) regulations allow lenders to collect interest from homeowners through the end of the month, even if the homeowner has paid off the loan earlier in the month.
S. 247 – Harriet Tubman National Historical Parks Act (Lead Sponsor)
Honoring the life of Harriet Ross Tubman, this bill would establish two National Historic Parks, one in Maryland and one in New York. The National Historical Park in Maryland would trace Tubman’s early life on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where she was born and later escaped from slavery to become one of the most famous “conductors” of the anti-slavery resistance network known as the Underground Railroad.
S. Res 90 – International Women’s Day Resolution (Lead Sponsor)
This resolution honored the achievements of women around the world in advance of International Women’s Day, which takes place every year on March 8. International Women’s Day celebrates the economic, political, and social achievements of women, while acknowledging the obstacles that women still face in the struggle for equal rights and opportunities.
This legislation would provide an additional $5 billion to the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP) to help retirees afford health insurance and costly medical expenses, allowing the program to continue through January 1, 2014, when health insurance exchanges will be operational.
This legislation would save taxpayers $3 billion this year and reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil by eliminating the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) and repealing the tariff on imported ethanol.
S. 587 – FRAC Act (Cosponsor)
The legislation would repeal an exemption provided for the oil and gas industry and would require them to disclose the chemicals they use in their hydraulic fracturing processes. Currently, the oil and gas industry is the only industry granted an exemption from complying with the Safe Drinking Water Act.
S. 586 – Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (Cosponsor)
This bill would make necessary amendments to the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) and other changes to strengthen the protections for federal employees who disclose government waste, fraud, abuse, or illegal activity. It would restore congressional intent by correcting the Federal Circuit’s repeated misinterpretations of the whistleblower law.
S. 562 – National Metro Safety Act (Cosponsor)
This bill establishes strong federal standards for Metro systems nationwide to ensure that Metro and all public transit systems across the country meet the safety recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Transit rail has 14 million daily riders but is the only mode of transportation without federal safety standards, oversight and enforcement.
S. 555 – Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2011 (Cosponsor)
This bill would establish a comprehensive federal prohibition against discrimination and harassment in public schools based on a student's actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
S. 528 – Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act (Cosponsor)
This bill would set national standards for states to implement Graduated Drivers License (GDL) programs that prepare teens to be safe, responsible drivers. On average, more than 10 teens are killed in the United States each day as a result of motor vehicle crashes.
S. 493 – SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011 (Cosponsor)
This bill reauthorizes the Federal government’s two largest research and development programs, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technical Transfer (STTR) programs, for eight years. This is exactly the type of jumpstart that our economy needs as we begin to emerge from tough times. The SBIR program alone has generated more than 84,000 patents and millions of jobs.
In March 2012, Senator Cardin, introduced a joint resolution to remove the deadline for the states’ ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). When Congress passed the ERA in 1972, it provided that the measure be ratified by three-fourths of the states (38) within seven years. This deadline was later extended to 10 years by a joint resolution enacted by Congress, but ultimately only 35 out of 38 states had ratified the ERA when the deadline expired in 1982.