December 28, 2018

This year has been a whirlwind. Much of my first year in the Senate has focused on protecting and expanding important federal investments in Maryland, fighting to stop the total repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and raising the alarm about a tax plan that will hurt millions of middle class families and saddle every American with the costs of an even bigger national debt. I’ve also introduced legislation on a wide variety of issues important to Maryland and our country – to increase funding for Chesapeake Bay clean-up efforts, to ensure that middle-class workers – not just CEOs –  see bigger paychecks, and bipartisan legislation to strengthen sanctions on North Korea with the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. 

But my work in the Senate is about more than legislating – it’s about helping individual Maryland families. This year alone, I have responded to over 315,402  of your letters and calls, and my office has helped over 4,000 Marylanders navigate the federal bureaucracy, including working on behalf of veterans, Social Security recipients, and others to obtain the support they earned or the help they needed. We also conducted workshops to help families with financial planning, and we succeeded in helping consumers who had been unfairly treated. This work doesn’t often make headlines, but it is vitally important.

While this has been a tumultuous year, I have been heartened by the tremendous rise of citizens' grassroots participation in our political process. I am reminded of the saying "it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve as your Senator, and I look forward to working together in the year to come. 

Fighting the Republican Corporate Tax Giveaway

Last week, Republicans doubled down on supporting powerful corporations and special interests at the expense of their constituents. The GOP tax bill will harm millions of middle-class families in Maryland and across the country. It contains huge, permanent giveaways for big banks and corporations, and asks our children, millions of working Americans and senior citizens to pay the price. Come 2019, 11 million American families will see their tax bills go up, while foreign investors – who own 35 percent of U.S. corporate stock – get a whopping $48 billion windfall. At the end of the day, American families who make less than $75,000 will be paying higher taxes, on average, in order to pay for this permanent tax cut for multinational corporations and their foreign shareholders. 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.

The bottom line is clear: under this bill, millions of middle-class families are going to pay more, while big corporations, rich foreign stockholders, hedge funds, and the top one percent will get a huge windfall. A household that makes more than $1 million per year gets on average a tax cut of $70,000. Despite what Republicans have promised, this legislation will not spur economic growth – but it will cause our national debt to spike up and leave working families without a real pay raise. I fought this bill tooth and nail, and I will keep fighting to overturn it in order to ensure that our tax code rewards work, not just wealth. Americans deserve better than this. 

Getting Our Priorities Straight

I was deeply disappointed when Republicans unveiled yet another short-term budget patch last week. Just three weeks ago, we passed a short-term bill that was meant to give us the time to negotiate a budget for next year. Instead, Republicans spent that time on their corporate tax giveaway and now they’re kicking the can down the road again. These short-term plans have negative impacts on everything from our national defense and homeland security to our children’s healthcare and education. Budgeting two weeks at a time is no way to run a business, much less a government. This process has thrown millions of Americans into uncertainty – from the 9 million children relying on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, to folks who depend on our community health centers, to Dreamers looking for a secure future in the country they call home. None of these issues were addressed, and that’s why I opposed the Republican’s short-term patch. 

Protecting Diplomacy

Across the world and here at home, the members of our State Department work on the frontlines of diplomacy and foreign policy. Last week, I met with Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan to discuss U.S. foreign policy, the State Department’s reorganization and management, and concerns confronting our diplomats at home and abroad. As our Secretary of Defense General Mattis has said, “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately.” If we can solve conflicts with diplomacy, we save American lives. That’s why I’m increasingly concerned by the Trump Administration’s hollowing out of the State Department. I expressed these concerns to Deputy Secretary Sullivan, and I will continue to push the Administration to prioritize diplomacy in our engagement abroad. It’s crucial that the State Department has the resources it needs to fulfill its diplomatic mission around the world, and I will keep working to ensure our State Department is fully equipped to represent the United States abroad.

Next year will bring its own set of challenges and opportunities, and I hope that in 2018 you will remain fully engaged in the debates that impact the future of our state and our country. Have a very happy New Year!