February 27, 2018

This month we saw another senseless act of gun violence take the lives of our nation’s children. We must do everything in our power to stop this horror. How many more shootings will it take before Congress stops talking and takes action? This issue shouldn’t be political—it should be about doing everything we can to prevent the loss of another child, another parent. It should be about saving another town like Parkland from the grief of a mass shooting and relieving cities like Baltimore from the daily toll of gun violence.

Inaction is complicity—it’s as simple as that. That’s what I’m telling my colleagues, and I hope you’ll tell your friends, family, and neighbors the same. With over 90 percent of Americans saying they want action, the GOP leadership’s refusal to consider measures that are proven to save lives is gross negligence.

The list of common sense measures is clear: close the gun show loophole and implement universal background checks; plug the gaps in the current reporting systems for instant background checks; improve our mental health system and our ability to prevent individuals who pose a risk to themselves and others from obtaining firearms; ban semi-automatic assault weapons like the AR-15; limit the number of rounds in magazines; implement a licensing system modeled after the Maryland law; outlaw bump stocks; and eliminate the law that shields the gun industry from lawsuits for wrongdoing. All of these measures are consistent with the Second Amendment, and we must not rest until we address gun violence in a meaningful way.

Chris Van Hollen

Preventing Russian Interference in Future Elections

We now have indisputable proof from Robert Mueller's indictments of 13 Russian individuals and 3 entities that the Kremlin worked to undermine our most recent elections. This comes on the heels of public statements by the Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the CIA, and the Secretary of State that they expect Russia will interfere again in the upcoming 2018 elections. We need to take action immediately to defend our democracy, and I have introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to do just that. The DETER Act would discourage interference in our elections from Russia or any other country by imposing automatic, severe economic sanctions on any country caught doing so. Every American, regardless of political party, should support this effort to protect the integrity of our elections. 

Honoring Frederick Douglass

On February 14th, we held a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Douglass. Maryland is proud to share in the history of this great American, who was born on the Eastern Shore. At the event, members of the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission were also sworn in. I was honored to work with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton to introduce and pass legislation to establish this Commission, and I’m proud to serve as a member of the Commission. I was also pleased to join the Mayor of Baltimore on Saturday to honor Douglass, who worked at the docks in Baltimore before escaping slavery and eventually becoming one of the world's greatest abolitionist leaders and a staunch advocate for women's suffrage. 

His actions helped build a more perfect union, but we have a long journey still ahead. The lessons Frederick Douglass taught us are as valuable in lighting the way forward as they are in illuminating the past.

Protecting Dreamers

Earlier this month, a majority of Senators voted for a bipartisan compromise that would have finally ensured that our Dreamers have security in the country they call home. It was by no means perfect, and I was particularly disappointed that it did not include protections for individuals with Temporary Protected Status who are living in our country legally and parents of Dreamers who are facing the same fears of having their families torn apart. But it would have provided a path toward citizenship for the over 1.6 million Dreamers who came here as children and have grown up pledging allegiance to the American flag. In the face of President Trump’s despicable flip-flop, we did not have enough Republican votes to garner the 60 votes necessary to move forward. The President asked Congress to negotiate a solution—we did. He asked for full funding for border security to build parts of a wall that he had previously promised that Mexico would pay for—the bill did. Trump was again exposed for saying one thing and doing another, but the way forward is unclear. The overwhelming majority of the country supports the Dreamers, and when the March 5th deadline arrives, more Republicans may be willing to support a reasonable compromise.

Spending Time on the Eastern Shore

Senator Cardin and I recently joined the Greater Salisbury Committee and local residents for a Community Conversation at Salisbury University. We had the opportunity to speak with over 300 residents and students about a wide range of issues, including ways we can bolster small businesses, expand access to broadband, support our local farmers, and protect the Chesapeake Bay. I also had the opportunity to participate in the groundbreaking of Salisbury’s new Riverwalk Amphitheater, which will host the National Folk Festival in September, and visit Hoopers Island Oyster Company in Cambridge. From the Eastern Shore to Western Maryland, from the Baltimore region to the Washington suburbs, and all points in between, Maryland is truly "America in Miniature." I always welcome the opportunity to meet with and listen to the concerns of people across our state, and I’m committed to bringing your thoughts, ideas, and concerns back to the U.S. Senate.