December 12, 2017

This has been a crazy yearand there are some major things that Congress needs to do before the year ends. Republicans have once again pushed off important priorities, creating artificial deadlines and leaving many facing uncertainty. And instead of tackling the critical issues that face our country, the GOP is attempting to give a $1.5 trillion tax windfall to the uber-wealthy and special interestsand leave millions of working families to pay the price. I’ve heard from many of you about these issues, and I share your concerns. I will continue fighting for Maryland’s priorities as these end-of-year discussions move forward.

Chris Van Hollen

Fighting the GOP Tax Giveaway

Under their tax plan, President Trump and Republicans in the House and Senate put powerful corporate interests before their constituents—plain and simple. It is a huge giveaway to special interests and the uber-rich, and it forces millions of middle-class Americans to foot the bill. What’s more, this legislation adds over $1 trillion to our national debt, and Republicans are already looking to slash programs like Medicare and Medicaid to pay for this corporate giveaway.

Maryland is hit particularly hard because Republicans have decided to double-tax families who currently deduct their state and local taxeswhile still letting corporations take the deduction. I brought together my Senate colleagues in Maryland, California, New York, and New Jersey—the four states hit hardest by the Republican tax plan—and we sent a letter to the House Republicans in our delegations to urge them to oppose a bill that would raise taxes on their own constituents to fund corporate giveaways. 

Sadly, Republicans in Congress have made it clear that they care little for transparency or bipartisanship. The legislation was passed in the dark of night, and the final 500-page bill was distributed just hours before the vote. Instead of holding hearings, meeting with experts, and discussing this bill with our constituents, the Republicans have pushed this bill—legislation that will impact our economy for years to come—through the Senate with little regard to how much it will hurt working Americans.

This is what we do know: millions of middle-class families are going to pay more, while big corporations, rich foreign stockholders, hedge funds, and the top one percent get a massive tax giveaway that will line their pockets but won’t grow paychecks for working people. Roughly one-third of U.S. corporate stock is owned by foreign investors, and the corporate tax cuts in the Senate Republican bill would deliver a $31 billion windfall to these wealthy foreign shareholders in 2019 alone.

But the fight isn’t over yet. I will continue to fight passage with every tool I’ve got. Over the last month, I’ve heard from thousands of concerned Marylanders, and I urge folks here and around the country not to let up. You deserve better.

Preventing a Government Shutdown

Instead of focusing on lining the pockets of big corporations, Congress must focus on ensuring that the federal government remains open and continues to provide Americans with vital services. A government shutdown would have very damaging impacts on Maryland families and the nation and would disrupt and undermine everything from lifesaving medical research to food safety inspections to Head Start programs educating our children. It’s also estimated that it would cost our economy over $6 billion a week.

As part of the government funding conversation, Congress must immediately fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This bipartisan program provides health insurance to 9 million kids across America, including over 142,000 in Maryland. Republicans have also let funding for community health centers expire in September—in our state alone, community health centers providing services and care to over 300,000 Marylanders. That Congress has left these two bipartisan, non-controversial programs in jeopardy is shameful. We must fund these programs by the end of the year—the need is dire. Additionally, I am committed to ensuring stability and security for Dreamers and people here under Temporary Protected Status (TPS). In Maryland, we have almost 10,000 Dreamers and over 22,000 TPS Recipients—their future is in our hands. We must give these families the stability they deserve, and we should address these issues urgently.

I urge my Republican colleagues to work with us on a long-term plan that keeps the government open and addresses priorities that are vital to our economic growth and the well-being of our communities.

Don’t forget – Open Enrollment!

There are only a few days left to enroll in health care through the Maryland Health Connection. While there’s been a lot of confusion out there—I want you to know the Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land, despite efforts by President Trump to sabotage it. The Maryland Health Connection offers many Marylanders options for affordable care. In fact, 9 out of 10 people who enroll qualify for financial help to lower their costs. Plus, many Marylanders who qualify for financial help will actually pay less in 2018 than this year for coverage. That’s why it’s so important for folks to log on and check out their options. Maryland’s 2018 Open Enrollment period—when anyone can sign up for health care on the exchange—began November 1, 2017 and only lasts until December 15, 2017. If you don’t have health insurance, the Maryland Health Connection can help you get covered. I encourage everyone, including folks who already have a plan, to log on to the exchange and shop around.