A third-generation Marylander, Ben Cardin has been a national leader on health care, retirement security, the environment and fiscal issues while representing the people of Maryland in the U.S. Senate, and before that in the House of Representatives. He has worked across party lines to further U.S. national security and to ensure that good governance, transparency and respect for human rights are integrated into American foreign policy efforts.
"He is a man of substance and integrity who understands complicated issues and the art of compromise."- The Baltimore Sun
First elected to the Senate in 2006, Senator Cardin currently serves as Ranking Member of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee. He is a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Environment & Public Works committees. He also serves on the Senate Finance Committee.
Senator Cardin is a leading advocate for the Chesapeake Bay, which is the economic, historical and cultural heart of Maryland. Nationally, he is a champion of protecting our clean air and clean water. He has introduced legislation to restore the health of America's great water bodies and is the leading proponent of investing in improvements to America's aging water infrastructure system while preparing it for the impacts of climate change. His commitment to reduce pollution and protect our environment fuels his work to broaden investments in safe public transit, as well as walking and bike trails.
A member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee since arriving in the Senate, Senator Cardin was responsible for the extension of increased guarantees and reduced fees in the Small Business Administration's two largest loan programs. He has been working to find better ways to provide access to credit for qualified small businesses and entrepreneurs, as well as expanding access to contracts for women-owned, minority owned and veteran-owned businesses. He consistently is urging federal agencies to take all steps possible to meet or exceed their modest small business contracting goals. He also has been a strong defender of the federal workforce and has fought to end the harmful effects of sequestration.
Senator Cardin has a deep interest in foreign affairs and has worked across party lines to further our national security and protect universal human rights. He has fought to ensure that anti-corruption, transparency and respect for human rights are integrated our foreign policy. He also has worked to ensure gender equity in national security programs and policies. He has been a Commissioner on the U.S. Helsinki Commission since 1993, serving as Chairman of the Commission in the 111th and 113th Congress. He currently is the Ranking Senate Democrat. In 2015, he was named as the Special Representative on Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Intolerance for the 57-nation Organization Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly. Senator Cardin serves as Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women's Issues. He previously has served as the Ranking Member of the SFRC East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy Subcommittee, and he is the former Chairman of the International Development and Foreign Assistance Subcommittee.
Senator Cardin believes access to quality, affordable health care should be a right and not a privilege. He continues to be a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act, which brought the United States closer to this goal. He led the fight for the Patients' Bill of Rights and, because of his efforts, the law ensures that individuals in private health insurance plans have the right to choose their primary care provider, women have direct access to an ob/gyn, and patients with medical emergencies are guaranteed coverage for necessary ER visits. He was responsible for the elevation of the National Institute for Minority Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health and has been a strong supporter of increases in funding for federally qualified health care centers and health information technology. Senator Cardin continues to be a leading champion for increased medical research funding for Maryland's world-class universities, NIH, and our State's cutting edge biotech industry.
One of Senator Cardin's proudest accomplishments was leading the fight to guarantee access to dental care for children in the Children's Health Insurance Program, following the tragic loss of a 12-year-old Prince George's County boy who died after complications that followed an untreated tooth infection.
Serving as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee during his first four years in the Senate, Senator Cardin also has developed a reputation for defending civil rights at home and has sought to find a balance between protection of civil liberties and national security. He is the lead sponsors of legislation to prohibit racial profiling by all levels of law enforcement, restore voting rights for former felons, and remove the deadline for ratification of the Equal Right Amendment. He has been a proud cosponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
From 1987-2006, Ben Cardin represented Maryland's Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives and served for 17 years on the Ways & Means Committee. He was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1967-1986. During his time as Speaker from 1979-1986, 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 is a member of the U.S. Naval Academy Board of Visitors, the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Policy Studies' National Advisory Board and the St. Mary's College Advisory Board, Center for Study of Democracy.
Senator Cardin is married to Myrna Edelman Cardin and his daughter Deborah and son-in-law Jonathan Willis have two daughters, Madeline and Julia.
Read our 2017 Report Card for Cardin.
Cardin is shown as a purple triangle ▲ in our ideology-leadership chart below. Each dot is a member of the Senate positioned according to our liberal–conservative ideology score (left to right) and our leadership score (leaders are toward the top).
The chart is based on the bills Cardin has sponsored and cosponsored. See full analysis methodology.
Ratings from Advocacy Organizations
Benjamin Cardin sits on the following committees:
- Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
- Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
- Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
- Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women's Issues
- Member, Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation
- Member, Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism
- Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
- Senate Committee on Finance
Cardin was the primary sponsor of 18 bills that were enacted. The most recent include:
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We consider a bill enacted if one of the following is true: a) it is enacted itself, b) it has a companion bill in the other chamber (as identified by Congress) which was enacted, or c) if about one third or more of its provisions were incorporated into bills that were enacted (as determined by an automated text analysis, applicable beginning with bills in the 110th Congress).
Cardin sponsors bills primarily in these issue areas:
International Affairs (38%)Health (17%)Taxation (14%)Public Lands and Natural Resources (8%)Government Operations and Politics (7%)Crime and Law Enforcement (6%)Environmental Protection (6%)Education (4%)
Some of Cardin’s most recently sponsored bills include...
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|Cardin’s Vote||Vote Description|
|Yea||On the Nomination PN734: Randal Quarles, of Colorado, to be a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for the unexpired term of fourteen ...|
Oct 5, 2017. Nomination Confirmed 65/32.
|Nay||S. 89: A bill to amend title 46, United States Code, to exempt old vessels that only operate within inland waterways from the fire-retardant materials requirement if the ...|
Apr 3, 2017. Bill Passed 85/12.
|Yea||H.R. 5325: Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2017|
Sep 28, 2016. Bill Passed 72/26.
|Yea||H.R. 22: Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act|
Dec 3, 2015. Conference Report Agreed to 83/16.
H.R 22, formerly the Hire More Heroes Act, has become the Senate’s vehicle for passage of the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act or DRIVE Act (S. 1647). The DRIVE Act is a major bipartisan transportation bill that would authorize funding ...
|Yea||H.R. 1314: Trade Act of 2015|
May 22, 2015. Bill Passed 62/37.
This vote turned what was a bill regarding administrative appeals of IRS determinations into the Trade Act of 2015, which included Trade Promotion Authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal as well as Trade Adjustment Assistance.
|Yea||H.J.Res. 124 (113th): Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2015|
Sep 18, 2014. Joint Resolution Passed 78/22.
|Nay||On the Nomination PN1643: Cheryl A. LaFleur, of Massachusetts, to be a Member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the term expiring June 30, 2019|
Jul 15, 2014. Nomination Confirmed 90/7.
|Nay||H.R. 3630 (112th): Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012|
Feb 17, 2012. Conference Report Agreed to 60/36.
|Nay||H.R. 1540 (112th): National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012|
Dec 15, 2011. Conference Report Agreed to 86/13.
|Yea||H.R. 4853 (111th): Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010|
Dec 15, 2010. Motion Agreed to 81/19.
The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (Pub.L. 111–312, H.R. 4853, 124 Stat. 3296, enacted December 17, 2010), also known as the 2010 Tax Relief Act, was passed by the United States Congress on December 16, 2010, and signed into ...
From Jan 2007 to Mar 2018, Cardin missed 10 of 3,373 roll call votes, which is 0.3%. This is better than the median of 1.4% among the lifetime records of senators currently serving. The chart below reports missed votes over time.
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|Time Period||Votes Eligible||Missed Votes||Percent||Percentile|
The information on this page is originally sourced from a variety of materials, including:
Benjamin Cardin is pronounced:
BEN-juh-min // KAHR-dun
The letters stand for sounds according to the following table:
|Letter||Sounds As In|
Capital letters indicate a stressed syllable.