March 30, 2018

I was proud to join students from Maryland and across the nation last Saturday for the March for Our Lives. We must put an end to the horror of school shootings from Parkland, Florida to Great Mills High School in St. Mary's County, and reduce the daily toll of gun violence in our streets. Inaction is complicity.

Last week, the Congress took some tiny steps in the right directionimproving the reporting of information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System; clarifying that the Centers for Disease Control can study the causes of gun violence; and boosting resources for school safety programs. But much more needs to be done. The students who organized the March understand that it was only the first step in building a strong, sustainable political movement to pass common sense gun-safety laws to save lives. The gun lobby is counting on the movement to fade awaywe cannot allow that to happen. I have been moved by the enthusiasm and activism of America's students, and I am proud to represent young people who are so engaged and thoughtful. This may be a long battle, but we’re in this together.

From addressing gun violence, to improving access to health care, to ensuring a quality education for all, there are many pressing issues we must tackle. I am grateful for your input on those and the other challenges we face. 

Chris Van Hollen


Last week, after much negotiation, the Senate passed, and I supported, an Omnibus Appropriations bill to fund the government for Fiscal Year 2018. While not perfect, the budget included many vital investments for Maryland and the nation. 

The legislation includes historic investments to fight the opioid epidemic and boost funding for life-saving medical research at places like the National Institutes of Health. It increases funding for every level of education, helps working families better afford child care, and expands incentives to build affordable housing. It will help rebuild veterans’ facilities, expand access to high-speed internet, and provide student loan debt relief to many teachers, public safety officials, and others in public service. It also includes funding for programs crucial to our communities, like the Child Care and Development Block Grant, the Community Development Block Grant, and the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund.

For Maryland specifically, this bill includes some crucial investments. The bill provides full funding for the Chesapeake Bay protection program. The Bay is not only a natural treasure, its health is vital to Maryland’s economy. The budget plan also makes important investments in critical infrastructure like the Washington Metro; the Port of Baltimore; and economic development in Western Maryland through the Appalachian Regional Commissionas well as investments in NASA's launch site on Wallops Island that employs hundreds of engineers and technicians from Maryland's Eastern Shore. Other investments support the work of important missions at federal facilities throughout Maryland, including the civilian agencies of FDA, NIH, NASA, IRS, NIST, NOAA, the Census Bureau, the Social Security Administration, the Agricultural Research Service, and military installations like Fort Meade, Fort Detrick, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Carderock Naval Surface Warfare Center, Naval Support Facility Indian Head, and Joint Base Andrews.

School Funding

Schools should have the resources they need to provide a quality education to all their students, including those with disabilities. In 1975, Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to ensure that every child with disabilities has access to educational opportunity. This legislation was a historic step forward—but since its passage, Congress has failed to provide the funding promised under this law. That shortfall in federal funding reduces the resources available to all students at our schools. It’s past time that we fulfill this commitment to our students, parents, and teachers. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation to fully fund IDEA and ensure a first-class education for every child. I urge my colleagues to pass this important legislation immediately.

Getting Around our Great State

As your Senator, I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to visit every corner of our great state, which is often called "America in Miniature" because Maryland is so geographically and demographically diverse. Last month I was on the Eastern Shore, and over the past few weeks, I’ve been in Prince Frederick, Aberdeen, Suitland, Baltimore, Adelphi, Frostburg, Williamsport, La Plata, and Towson—and many places in between. 

Earlier this month, I was in Charles and Calvert Counties. In Prince Frederick, I was honored to recognize some truly amazing women and girls at the Calvert County Commission for Women and the League of Women Voters’ Women of the World Banquet. In Port Tobacco, I experienced the culture of the Piscataway Conoy Tribe at their Annual Seed Gathering Festival. In La Plata, I toured LifeStyles of Maryland, a nonprofit that supports people in need. LifeStyles’ signature programs include the Samaritan Program, a food and clothing service, and Safe Nights, an overnight shelter program for individuals and families. During the tour, I was able to meet with staff and community members to learn more about the crucial services LifeStyles provides.

In addition to these visits in Southern Maryland, I joined the Army Alliance at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Aberdeen is one of the oldest active military installations, dating back to the First World War. It’s a key national defense asset and an economic driver for Maryland—employing over 23,000 employees and bringing in over $7 billion to our state in the past year alone. But it doesn’t just stop there: the groundbreaking research and development being done at Aberdeen helps support members of our military who keep America safe throughout the world.

I also recently visited Mary’s Center—a community health center with locations in Adelphi and Silver Spring that provides a wide range of health and social services. I spoke with the patients, nurses, and doctors at the Center, seeing first-hand the care they provide and learning how crucial federal funding is to their mission. I’m impressed by the good work they do in our community and fought successfully to ensure that funding for Community Health Centers was included in the recent bipartisan budget deal negotiated in the Senate.