* Democrat who served in the U.S. House from 1987-2006
* Has served in the U.S. Senate since 2007
* Advocate of virtually unrestricted abortion rights
* Supporter of Hamas-linked CAIR
* Supporter of amnesty & expanded rights for illegal aliens
Benjamin “Ben” Cardin was born in Baltimore, Maryland on October 5, 1943, into a family of Russian Jewish immigrants whose original surname was Kardonsky. Cardin’s father, Meyer Cardin, had been a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1935-1939, and later served as a judge for the Baltimore City Supreme Bench from 1961-1977. Ben Cardin’s uncle, Maurice Cardin, was also very involved in city politics, most notably as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates (Baltimore, 1951-1966).
Ben Cardin earned a B.A. degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1964, and a JD from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1967. While still a law student in ‘67, Cardin, a Democrat, won election to the Maryland House of Delegates to succeed his retiring uncle. He went on to serve in the House of Delegates for the next 19 years, which included a stint as the chamber’s Speaker from 1979-1986.
During his tenure as a congressman, which ran from 1987-2006, Cardin’s noteworthy votes and legislative actions included the following:
On January 19, 2001, Cardin was a guest speaker at the Working Families Legislative Conference co-sponsored by Progressive Maryland and the Campaign for America’s Future. The event was designed to link local Maryland issues with a national progressive agenda vis-à-vis such topics as affordable housing, afterschool programs, health care, a mandatory living wage, and the public financing of political campaigns.
In 2006, Cardin was elected to represent Maryland in the U.S. Senate, capturing 54.2% of the total vote to defeat then-Lieutenant Governor and eventual Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele. Then-Senator Barack Obama endorsed his fellow Democrat in the race, and Cardin would later return the favor by supporting Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.
In November 2007, Cardin praised the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), saying to its leaders and members: “I particularly want to commend CAIR for working to educate others about Islam, a religion of more than one billion people in the world. CAIR also has provided members of the Muslim community in the United States with an important voice in promoting social justice and mutual understanding. CAIR has 31 offices nationwide and in Canada and through your work you have helped promote a dialogue among employers, law enforcement officials, and government agencies. CAIR understands the importance of developing mutual understanding and trust.”
Eleven years later, Cardin wrote a letter of support to CAIR on the occasion of its 24th anniversary in September 2018.
In June 2008, Cardin co-sponsored a Senate resolution to recognize the historical significance of “Juneteenth Independence Day,” on grounds that: “(1) history should be regarded as a means for understanding the past and solving the challenges of the future; and (2) the celebration of the end of slavery is an important and enriching part of the history and heritage of the United States.”
On the topic of health care, Cardin told his constituents during an August 2009 town hall event in Maryland that he was “not going to vote for any bill that adds to the national debt.” But the senator violated that pledge soon thereafter, when he voted to pass the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in December of that same year.
Cardin was ranked as America’s third most liberal senator by National Journal in 2010, a designation based on his 2009 voting record.
At a June 2010 ceremony in Langly Park, Maryland, Cardin and fellow Democrat Senator Barbara Mikulski were among the special guests who helped cut the ribbon on the newly renovated multicultural center of CASA de Maryland, a pro-illegal-alien organization.
In a May 2013 event hosted by CASA de Maryland, Cardin participated in a roundtable discussion on immigration reform. In a press release published after the event, Cardin advocated amnesty for illegal aliens residing in the United States:
“We need to seize this unprecedented opportunity to pass real, bipartisan immigration reform. We cannot do this in pieces; it must be a comprehensive effort that allows for a fair pathway to citizenship for the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants now living in the United States.
“Now that the Senate is moving forward on a bipartisan plan and Members of the House of Representatives have developed a bipartisan plan, there is real hope that we can achieve reforms that would strengthen border security, create a fair legalization program, and create a workable system to ensure that employers only hire legal workers in the future. We also should not forget that immigration reform also is about keeping families together and ensuring that immigration laws are respected.”
During a December 2017 appearance on CNN, Cardin vowed to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which shielded an enormous number of illegal aliens who had entered the United States as minors (“DREAMers”) from being deported:
“I think it’s unconscionable that we would rip families apart, people who know no other country but the United States. That would be detrimental to our economy. That makes no sense at all. The overwhelming majority of people believe the DREAMers should be able to stay here. We have bipartisan support in the Congress to pass it. If the Republican leadership will bring it up for a vote, we can pass protection for the DREAMers. We can fix our immigration system, but they won’t bring the issue up for votes. Democrats cannot set the agenda. We’re in the minority. But we will do everything that we have in our power to make sure that these issues are addressed.”
In October 2018, Cardin maintained that the U.S. should “tr[y] to help” a large caravan of migrants who at that time were seeking to illegally cross America’s southern border from Mexico. During an appearance on CNN, the senator said: “America’s strength is in our values. We’ve been a leader internationally standing up for people at risk. The people of Central America, many are at risk. If they qualify for asylum, we believe there should be a process by which that case could be heard in a fair manner, protecting the individuals.”
A month later, Cardin blamed President Trump for the caravan members’ unrest at America’s southern border, where some 500 of them had recently tried to storm into U.S. territory. The senator had the following exchange regarding that situation with CNN’s John Berman:
BERMAN: I want to show you if I can or talk about the pictures we’ve seen over the last 24 hours at the southern U.S. border with Mexico and Tijuana, where some 500 migrants from Central America ran toward the border. There was tear gas used to push them back. Tear gas, some people note, on woman and children. What do you see here?
CARDIN: This is horrible. We have a humanitarian problem on our border. President Trump has argued that our immigration system needs to be fixed. Yet, for the last two years under his presidency, controlling both the House and the Senate, the Republicans, they have not taken any action to improve our immigration system. Instead, they’ve put all their weight behind building a $28-billion wall that the experts tell us will do very little protect our security at the border. You have people who are fleeing horrible circumstances in their own country. Many fear for their own lives. They have legitimate concerns about their safety. They want to seek asylum in the United States. There is a process that needs to be followed for that. The Trump administration is not following those guidelines. They are making the circumstances worse. Here we look at children being subjected to tear gas. That’s the United States causing that. That’s outrageous.
BERMAN: That’s the United States causing that? I think that other people will look at that and say “these are 500 migrants who broke the law by rushing the border, by storming that wall there.” Don’t they have responsibility?
CARDIN: There is a better way to handle this. The Trump administration’s policies have caused anxiety at the border. There is an orderly process that should have been used. Should we fix our immigration system? Absolutely. But this administration has made no effort to fix our immigration system.
BERMAN: But again, you say President Trump has caused this. Those migrants, some 5000 migrants, many of them at a stadium, they’re the ones who chose to march up from Central America. They’re waiting at a stadium right now. Those 500 migrants chose to rush the border. What is the right response if you have hundreds of people running to the border?
CARDIN: The Trump administration has illegally changed the asylum rules. People who have legitimate concerns to escape persecution should be able to have their case heard here in the United States in an orderly way. That’s very denied by the Trump administration. The Trump administration took children away from their parents at our border. That’s circumstance has not yet been fixed even though there is a court order to that effect. In the eyes of the international community, the United States is certainly not a leader in what we should be doing in the eyes of people fleeing danger.
In March 2011, Cardin was a co-sponsor of the Student Non-Discrimination Act, which asserted that students who identified as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender) “have been and are subjected to pervasive discrimination, including harassment, bullying, intimidation, and violence, and have been deprived of equal educational opportunities, in schools in every part of the Nation.” One of the stated purposes of the Act was to “provide a comprehensive Federal prohibition of discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”
In 2012, Cardin easily secured re-election to the Senate with 56% of the vote, defeating Republican Dan Bongino and Independent Rob Sobhani.
In May 2014, Cardin was among a number of congressional lawmakers to meet with a punk band and Russian feminist protest group called “Pussy Riot.” “It is my pleasure to welcome to the United States Capitol members of the Pussy Riot,” the senator stated. “We had a chance to talk with them about the conditions today in Russia, the experiences that they had, including the fact that they were arrested and sent to prison, how they had tried to help the citizens of Russia deal with the current deterioration of human rights in Russia.”
Following the August 2014 shooting death of an 18-year-old black criminal named Michael Brown in a violent confrontation with a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, Cardin urged Congress to pass the End Racial Profiling Act. “We need to better educate more of our law enforcement officials in the differences between specific suspect descriptions and sweeping generalizations or profiling that wastes valuable resources,” the senator suggested.
Cardin was a co-sponsor of S 299, the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015, which stipulated that “the President may not prohibit or otherwise regulate travel to or from Cuba by U.S. citizens or legal residents, or any of the transactions incident to such travel, including banking transactions.”
In June 2015, Cardin joined fellow Democrat Senators Patrick Leahy and Dean Heller on a trip to Cuba where they met First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel and Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez. “We think that can be achieved this year and we can make additional progress next year,” Cardin said at a news conference. “We’re optimistic this path that President Obama and [Cuban] President [Raul] Castro started will be continued.”
In February 2016, Cardin met with local Muslim leaders at the Masjid Bait-us-Samad mosque in Rosedale, Maryland. He used the occasion to accuse then-Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump of engaging in “far too much inflammatory and inappropriate rhetoric about our Muslim neighbors.” Cardin also stressed the importance of pluralism and diversity: “To me, ensuring our national security starts with protecting core American values of democracy, inclusion and tolerance. It is critical that we never stop working to create a society in which all minorities are ensured full participation in every facet of life — politically, economically, educationally, culturally and beyond. It is absolutely essential for us to have a functional government and society that everyone from all walks of life is as involved and represented as they would like to be.”
Shortly after Donald Trump’s upset victory over Mrs. Clinton in the November 2016 presidential election, Cardin called for a resolution to clamp down on the president-elect’s business operations. “This resolution is intended to prevent a crisis or any misunderstanding regarding the consistency of the President’s actions with the U.S. Constitution,” the senator said. “In the two months before President-elect Trump’s inauguration, he should provide the American people with clarity and certainty that he will in no way, shape, or form use the office of the President to advance his substantial personal fortune.”
In November 2017, Cardin attended the United Nations’ COP 23 Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany. Although the newly installed Trump administration had already rescinded America’s involvement in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, Cardin reassured conference attendees that Democrats were still committed to fighting climate change. “I want to make it clear: the federal government is not just the president of the United States,” he said.
During a September 2019 appearance on MSNBC, Cardin claimed that President Trump in 2018 had “isolated America rather than Iran” by withdrawing the U.S. from the Iran Nuclear Deal that the Obama administration had helped negotiate in 2015.
During a February 2020 appearance on CNN, Cardin called for Attorney General Bill Barr to resign his post:
“The Attorney General Barr has been the personal attorney for the president [Trump], rather than America’s attorney general. This has been over and over again, we’ve seen him act and do the personal bidding of the president, rather than the independent Department of Justice that has a great reputation as being an independent agency. So, Attorney General Barr has crossed the line. I agree. He needs to resign.”
“Our nation craves a leader who can bring us together during these difficult times. We need a leader with empathy and understanding who honors core American values of opportunity and equality. We need a steady hand and someone who trusts experts and science and puts the health and welfare of our country before himself. Joe Biden is such a leader. Joe Biden is a public servant who can get our country back on track and restore American leadership at home and around the globe. Elections do have consequences and, for the sake of all Marylanders and the entire country, we cannot get this next one wrong. I am supporting my friend and former colleague, Joe Biden, for President of the United States.”
In August 2022, Cardin suggested that American taxpayers should welcome the 87,000 new IRS agents that Democrats were seeking to add to the federal payroll:
“Well, millions of Americans aren’t going to be impacted by that other than getting better service from the IRS, having their telephone answered, getting the questions they need in order to comply with our tax laws. The auditing is going to be focused on those with high income, the large corporations, etc. So, there’s no reason to be fearful. And if you paid your taxes and if you comply with our laws, you should want to make sure everyone else does that.”
In a May 1, 2023 interview with The Baltimore Sun, Cardin said he would not seek re-election to the Senate after the expiration of his then-current term in 2024.
In a June 2023 appearance on Fox News Sunday, Cardin reaffirmed his opposition to any restrictions on abortion rights. When asked if there should be any legal cut-off point for terminating a pregnancy, the senator replied: “No, to me, it’s reproductive — it’s a health-care decision. It’s up to women to make that decision.”
According to OpenSecrets.org, Cardin in 2018 had an estimated net worth of $3.1 million.
As matters of principle, Cardin believes that:
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