February 21, 2021

During Black History Month we honor the legacy and sacrifice of those, famous and not, who through their words, actions, and accomplishments advanced the long struggle for racial justice and equity. That struggle must be ours as we work together to achieve real change and ensure our country finally lives up to the full promise of liberty and justice for all. Big challenges remain, but we have a reason to be hopeful as we enter a new chapter in our nation’s history. Let’s move forward with urgency to complete the work ahead. I’ll be fighting this month and every month to tackle these injustices, and I hope you’ll join me.

Defending our Democratic Institutions

The Senate trial made clear – Donald Trump committed high crimes and misdemeanors against our nation in his incitement of the insurrection on our Capitol on January 6th to overturn the election results. He violated his duty and oath of office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution – and in fact, his actions flew directly in the face of this most sacred responsibility. The overwhelming documentation provided by the House impeachment managers underscored this truth. That is why I voted to convict Donald Trump.

I remain deeply troubled by the decision of so many Republican Senators to vote to acquit. If Trump’s conduct was not a crime against the Constitution, what is? Make no mistake – they have inflicted lasting harm on our nation in their failure to hold Donald Trump accountable; they have failed the test of history, and that is likely to haunt us in the years ahead. 

But I am encouraged that this vote did not fall strictly along party lines. In fact, it was the largest bipartisan impeachment vote to convict a president in American history. And I feel certain that the American people know the truth of Donald Trump’s guilt. This trial brought to light his crimes against our Constitution, and these crimes will not be erased. Together, we must work to undo the damage of the Trump era and move forward as a country.

The Senate trial also highlighted the sacrifices and courage of many Capitol Hill Police Officers, including the heroic actions of Officer Eugene Goodman of Maryland. By redirecting violent rioters away from the Senate chamber on January 6th, Officer Goodman defended our democracy and saved the lives of Senators and staff. He is wholly deserving of the highest civilian honor bestowed by Congress, and I’m glad the Senate acted quickly to pass the legislation I introduced to recognize his quick thinking and bravery with a Congressional Gold Medal.

Passing an Emergency Plan that Meets the Moment

Our most urgent priority must be to provide more relief to Americans struggling against the weight of the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. Since last March, I’ve worked to secure five major bipartisan relief bills in Congress, including the CARES Act and the $900 billion measure that was signed into law in December. These packages have helped Marylanders weather the storm of COVID-19 by bolstering our public health infrastructure and extending a lifeline to working families and small businesses harmed by the economic fallout.

And while I was glad that we’ve been able to take these steps to mitigate some impacts of the pandemic, now is not the time to pat ourselves on the back, say we’re done, and throw in the towel. These are unprecedented times, and we need to go big before it’s too late. We must ramp up vaccine production and distribution, expand testing and access to N95 masks, get help to those hardest hit, get our children safely back in school, and put our economy on the road to recovery. I was proud to speak on the Senate floor in favor of the budget resolution that will allow us to pass President Biden’s American Rescue Plan in the Senate with a simple majority and am now working urgently with colleagues to get this ambitious package across the finish line.

The experts and the American people agree with me on this one. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen has said: “The smartest thing we can do is act big.” Even President Trump’s former top economist, Kevin Hassett, has supported that assessment. And the American people are on board with President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which would accelerate the deployment of vaccines and testing; help get our students back into school as quickly and safely as possible; extend enhanced unemployment benefits beyond mid-March; double the amount of rental assistance available to those at risk of eviction; extend badly needed support to local governments on the front lines; provide another round of individual payments based on income eligibility; and, very importantly, expand the child tax credit in a way that would cut child poverty by more than 40% this year. All of these measures are necessary to beat the virus and prevent a double-dip economic recession. 

As we fight for relief on the federal front, I remain deeply troubled by the lack of statewide coordination and communication in Maryland's vaccine rollout. At the time of this writing, Maryland is ranked 49th among all 50 states for percent of total vaccines administered and 41st among all 50 states for vaccines administered per 100,000 people, according to CDC data. And while I'm glad more vaccines are coming in, our state needs a more transparent and efficient process to get vaccines to Marylanders in a more equitable way. I was glad to be joined by my colleagues in the Maryland congressional delegation earlier this month in a letter to Governor Hogan, which called for a course correction in Maryland's vaccine distribution approach. These calls have since been echoed by Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and our county leaders. I will continue to push for accountability and action at the state level so we can get more shots into the arms of Marylanders as soon as possible. I'll also keep pushing for the federal relief measures necessary to bolster vaccine distribution in our communities, secure our supply chain, and strengthen vaccine confidence and communication.

Fixing USPS

I’ve been hearing from hundreds of constituents about slow postal delivery, and I share their anger and frustration at this unacceptable situation. Medication shipments have gone missing, many small businesses cannot get their products to customers, and many are getting hit with late fees for bill payments that didn’t arrive on time because of mail delivery delays. The situation is doubly frustrating because the Congress allocated an additional $10 billion to the Postal Service to help meet its needs during the pandemic, and that money must be put to use restoring the service that the American people have come to expect from the dedicated men and women of the Postal Service. That’s why I led a letter with the Maryland congressional delegation demanding action from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. In the letter, we urged DeJoy to halt any further downsizing measures and return to the 2012 service standards, which would reinstate overnight delivery and shorten delivery time.

The Postal Service leadership needs to take responsibility for the harm done by their cutbacks, fix the issues that have plagued deliveries, and replace Louis DeJoy. Trump may have left office, but his Postmaster General is still wreaking havoc on mail delivery that Marylanders and all Americans rely on. It’s time for fresh leadership at USPS, and I will continue to push for reliable service, more accountability, and faster delivery times moving forward.

Our push to improve postal delivery is the result of what I have been hearing from the hundreds of constituents who reached out to my office voicing their concern. It’s just one example of how our state is strongest when we work together. I want to hear from you and hope you will continue to stay engaged.






          Chris Van Hollen