February 6, 2018

In last week’s State of the Union address, the President identified a number of issues that I have been eager to tackle for some time, including modernizing our infrastructure, reducing the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs, and devoting real resources to counter the opioid epidemic. In fact, in each of these areas, I have joined with my Democratic colleagues to present specific proposals. To date, neither the President nor my Republican colleagues have supported these proposals. I hope that will change this year.

Chris Van Hollen

The Path Forward

Once again, Congress faces a deadline to resolve the issue of funding the federal government. Last month, we were able to work out a short-term agreement to end the shutdown and resume negotiations. But budgeting three weeks at a time is no way to run a business, much less a government. We must provide for the vital functions of the government—from defending our country; to continuing life-saving medical research at NIH; to supporting kids in Head Start, seniors, and veterans. We must also provide sufficient funding for community health centers and fighting the opioid epidemic, and ensure that our Dreamers have a secure future. In addition to these national priorities, Maryland relies on stable federal funding for projects ranging from Metro improvements to the Chesapeake Bay cleanup. We have a lot to get done this week—but I’m meeting with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and I am determined to move forward on these issues on a bipartisan basis. 

What the Tax Bill Means for Marylanders

As a result of the tax plan that President Trump and Congressional Republicans passed, the Maryland Board of Revenue Estimates calculates that 376,000 Maryland households will be hit with federal tax increases—including 123,000 Maryland families with incomes between $25,000 and $50,000. This is unacceptable. We must protect Marylanders from these staggering impacts. And we must hold the Trump Administration responsible for the fact that hundreds of thousands of Maryland families are paying higher taxes while millionaires, billionaires, and big corporations get a huge windfall. I will continue pushing for solutions on both the state and federal level that mitigate these impacts on Maryland families. 

Protecting Our Environment

Last week, I was proud to reintroduce legislation on an issue that is crucial to our future as a nation—addressing climate change. The Healthy Climate and Family Security Act is a ‘cap and dividend’ plan that would use a market-based approach to place a price on carbon pollution and return the proceeds directly to hardworking Americans, increasing their spending power and growing our entire economy. In fact, a University of Massachusetts Amherst study found a ‘cap and divided’ approach would mean more than 80 percent of families would see more money in their pockets, even before taking into account the economic benefits of preventing the costly impacts from extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and other disruptions.

Also last week, in my role as a Member on the Environment & Public Works Committee, I had the opportunity to question EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. The EPA funds programs that directly impact the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay, and I raised concerns about actions Mr. Pruitt has recently taken that could have a negative impact on those efforts. As your Senator, I’ll continue to fight to protect the Bay and to make sure the Administration is held accountable on these issues.

Deterring Foreign Interference in Our Elections

As we saw in the 2016 elections, our democratic process is vulnerable to attacks by hostile foreign powers—and we expect the threat will grow in future years. The United States must do everything possible to prevent these efforts to undermine our elections. That’s why I introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) called the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act. It would send a powerful message to Russia and any other foreign actors seeking to disrupt our elections: if you attack American candidates, campaigns, or voting infrastructure, you will automatically trigger severe sanctions and economic penalties. I’m working with both Democrats and Republicans to build support to pass it without delay. You can find out more information about this legislation here.