Benjamin Louis Cardin (born October 5, 1943) is an American politician serving as the senior United States Senator from Maryland, first elected to that seat in 2006. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously was the U.S. Representative for Maryland's 3rd congressional district from 1987 to 2007. Cardin served as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1967 to 1987 and as Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1979 to 1987, the youngest person to hold the position in history. In his half-century career as an elected official, he has never lost an election.
Cardin was elected to succeed Paul Sarbanes in 2006, defeating Republican Michael Steele, the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, by a margin of 54% to 44%. He was reelected in 2012 taking 56% of the vote. He became a senior U.S. Senator on January 3, 2017 upon Barbara Mikulski's retirement. Cardin won reelection to a third term in 2018, taking 65% of the vote.
On a list by Congressional Quarterly of the members of Congress who were most supportive of President Barack Obama's legislative agenda in 2009, Cardin was tied for fifth most supportive Senator with five other Senators. In 2013, National Journal rated him as tied with six other Democratic senators for fifth most liberal Senator.
In June 2019, Cardin and eighteen other Democratic senators sent a letter to USDA Inspector General (IG) Phyllis K. Fong with the request that the IG investigate USDA instances of retaliation and political decision-making and asserted that not conducting an investigation would mean these "actions could be perceived as a part of this administrationâ€™s broader pattern of not only discounting the value of federal employees, but suppressing, undermining, discounting, and wholesale ignoring scientific data produced by their own qualified scientists."
Senator Cardin is a supporter of the death penalty.
In March 2019, Cardin was one of six senators to sign a letter to the Federal Trade Commission requesting it "use its rulemaking authority, along with other tools, in order to combat the scourge of non-compete clauses rigging our economy against workers" and espousing the view that such provisions "harm employees by limiting their ability to find alternate work, which leaves them with little leverage to bargain for better wages or working conditions with their immediate employer." The senators furthered that the FTC had the responsibility of protecting both consumers and workers and needed to "act decisively" to address their concerns over "serious anti-competitive harms from the proliferation of non-competes in the economy."
In 2007, Cardin supported the United States Public Service Academy Act. The Act would serve to create "an undergraduate institution devoted to developing civilian leaders." Like the Military Academies, this would give students 4 years of tuition-free education in exchange for 5 years of public service upon graduation.
Liberal environmentalists criticized Cardin for compromising too much while working with conservative James Inhofe on an amendment to Cardin's Chesapeake Bay legislation. Josh Saks, senior legislative representative for water resources campaigns with the National Wildlife Federation, praised Cardin as "the lead voice for clean water and the restoration of America's great waters in Congress."
In November 2018, Cardin was one of twenty-five Democratic senators to cosponsor a resolution specifying key findings of the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change report and National Climate Assessment. The resolution affirmed the senators' acceptance of the findings and their support for bold action toward addressing climate change.
In March 2019, Cardin was one of eleven senators to sponsor the Climate Security Act of 2019, legislation forming a new group within the State Department that would have the responsibility for developing strategies to integrate climate science and data into operations of national security as well as restoring the post of special envoy for the Arctic, which had been dismantled by President Trump in 2017. The proposed envoy would advise the president and the administration on the potential effects of climate on national security and be responsible for facilitating all interagency communication between federal science and security agencies.
Elections Act with Debbie Wasserman Schultz
In October 2018 Cardin cosponsored, together with Chris Van Hollen and Susan Collins, a bipartisan bill that if passed would block "any persons from foreign adversaries from owning or having control over vendors administering U.S. elections." Protect Our Elections Act would make companies involved in administering elections reveal foreign owners, and informing local, state and federal authorities if said ownership changes. Companies failing to comply would face fined of $100,000.
Cardin has an "F" rating from the National Rifle Association.
In 2013, he co-sponsored the Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act in an effort to ban large-capacity ammunition.
In response to the Orlando nightclub shooting, Cardin questioned the legality of military style assault weapons stating that "in my observations in Maryland, I don't know too many people who need to have that type of weapon in order to do hunting in my state or to keep themselves safe."
Cardin opposed the 2016 sale of approximately 26,000 assault rifles to the national police of the Philippines. His opposition led to the U.S. State Department halting the sale.
In the wake of the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, Cardin stated that thoughts and prayers were not going to save more people from dying in mass shootings. He also made a call for action to change gun laws, stating on Twitter that "Automatic weapons aren't needed to hunt deer or ducks; they're meant to kill people." In response to the shooting, Cardin sponsored Dianne Feinstein's proposal to ban bump-fire stocks, which were used by the shooter to kill 59 individuals and injure over 500.
In July 2019, Cardin and Rob Portman introduced the Fallen Journalists Memorial Act, a bill that would create a new memorial that would be privately funded and constructed on federal lands within Washington, D.C. in order to honor journalists, photographers, and broadcasters that have died in the line of duty.
In the 111th Congress, Cardin helped secure dental benefits in the State Children's Health Insurance Plan.
In August 2019, Cardin was one of nineteen senators to sign a letter to United States Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar requesting data from the Trump administration in order to aid in the comprehension of states and Congress on potential consequences in the event that the Texas v. United States Affordable Care Act (ACA) lawsuit prevailed in courts, citing that an overhaul of the present health care system would form "an enormous hole in the pocketbooks of the people we serve as well as wreck state budgets".
In October 2019, Cardin was one of twenty-seven senators to sign a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer advocating for the passage of the Community Health Investment, Modernization, and Excellence (CHIME) Act, which was set to expire the following month. The senators warned that if the funding for the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF) was allowed to expire, it "would cause an estimated 2,400 site closures, 47,000 lost jobs, and threaten the health care of approximately 9 million Americans."
In April 2019, Cardin was one of forty-one senators to sign a bipartisan letter to the housing subcommittee praising the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 4 Capacity Building program as authorizing "HUD to partner with national nonprofit community development organizations to provide education, training, and financial support to local community development corporations (CDCs) across the country" and expressing disappointment that President Trump's budget "has slated this program for elimination after decades of successful economic and community development." The senators wrote of their hope that the subcommittee would support continued funding for Section 4 in Fiscal Year 2020.
On 31 October 2011 Cardin endorsed the proposal for the United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA). He is one of only six persons who served as members of the United States Congress ever to do so and is the only one who did so while in office.
Cardin has often supported positions that aim to strengthen America's relationship with Israel. In 2017, Cardin sponsored a bill, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S. 720)), that would penalize commercial businesses that wanted to aid International NGOs and/or organizations in boycotting Israel.
He supported civilian nuclear cooperation with India.
Weeks after the 2014 Hong Kong class boycott campaign and Umbrella Movement broke out which demands genuine universal suffrage among other goals, Cardin among bipartisan colleagues joined U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and Rep. Chris Smith's effort to introduce Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act which would update the United Statesâ€“Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 and U.S. commitment to Hong Kong's freedom and democracy. "Civil society and democratic freedoms are under attack around the world and Hong Kong is on the front lines. The United States has a responsibility to protect human rights and defend against these threats," Cardin, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee said.
In July 2017, Cardin voted in favor of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act that placed sanctions on Iran together with Russia and North Korea. On 11 October 2017, in a joint statement, Cardin and Senator John McCain questioned the Trump administration's commitment to the sanctions bill.
Cardin with Mark Warner in May 2017
In October 2017, Cardin condemned the genocide of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar and called for a stronger response to the crisis.
In August 2018, Cardin and 16 other lawmakers urged the Trump administration to impose sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act against Chinese officials who are responsible for human rights abuses against the Uyghur Muslim minority in western China's Xinjiang region. They wrote: "The detention of as many as a million or more Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in 'political reeducation' centers or camps requires a tough, targeted, and global response."
Cardin condemned President ErdoÄŸan's wide-ranging crackdown on dissent following a failed July 2016 coup in America's NATO ally Turkey.
In April 2019, Cardin was one of thirty-four senators to sign a letter to President Trump encouraging him "to listen to members of your own Administration and reverse a decision that will damage our national security and aggravate conditions inside Central America", asserting that Trump had "consistently expressed a flawed understanding of U.S. foreign assistance" since becoming president and that he was "personally undermining efforts to promote U.S. national security and economic prosperity" through preventing the use of Fiscal Year 2018 national security funding. The senators argued that foreign assistance to Central American countries created less migration to the U.S., citing the funding's helping to improve conditions in those countries.
Cardin supports Net Neutrality, as shown by his vote during the 109th Congress in favor of the Markey Amendment to H.R. 5252 which would add Net Neutrality provisions to the federal telecommunications code. Cardin also supports Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, which gives DOJ the tools to target those site owners who are engaged in illegal digital piracy.
Cardin is opposed to eliminating the tax deduction for charitable donations and supports raising taxes on higher income earners. During a December 20, 2012, interview with Maria Bartiromo on CNBC, Cardin stated, "We're now a few days away from Christmas. The easiest way to get the revenues is to get the rates from the higher income, uh, taxpayers." In response to the question, "Are you prepared to vote to limit the loophole of charitable deductions?" Cardin responded, "No."
In November 2011, Cardin's intended update of the 1917 Espionage Act upset some public disclosure advocates. They complained that it "would make it harder for federal employees to expose government fraud and abuse."
Cardin is a co-sponsor of a Senate resolution expressing objection to the UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned Israeli settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territories as a violation of international law. Cardin said that "Congress will take action against efforts at the UN, or beyond, that use Resolution 2334 to target Israel."
Cardin supported President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. He stated: "Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel and the location of the US Embassy should reflect this fact."
Cardin and Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) proposed the Israel Anti-Boycott Act in late 2018 which would make it illegal for companies to engage in boycotts against Israel and Israeli settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories. The bill would expand the Export Administration Act (EAA) to foreign boycotts imposed by international organizations like the European Union, Arab League and the United Nations. Cardin and Portman have been strongly in promotion of the bill, working to integrate it into larger spending legislation to be signed by President Trump.