September 27, 2022

Building a Stronger Future

Just last month, we took historic action to address some of the biggest challenges our nation faces through the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. This landmark bill addresses the worsening climate crisis, sky-high prescription drug costs, a tax code that unfairly puts corporations and the wealthy before working Americans, and inflation – all while reducing our national debt and creating new jobs. The Inflation Reduction Act is now law, and it’s here to improve the everyday lives of Marylanders – from lowering their health care costs to creating good-paying clean energy jobs. Over the last few weeks, it has been great to join Marylanders across our state to celebrate what this legislation does for Maryland and our country.

In addition to working closely with colleagues to pass this bill through the Senate, I authored two key provisions that were included in the final law. One – based on my HOPE for HOMES Act – will help lower home energy costs for Americans while creating jobs and tackling the ongoing climate crisis. I was recently joined by Maryland homeowners, workers, healthy housing and climate advocates, and federal, state, and local officials in Baltimore to highlight that provision, which will provide consumers with large rebates to help them pay the upfront costs of making their homes more energy efficient. Those home improvements are projected to save homeowners up to $750 every year on their energy bills. On top of that, the HOPE for HOMES provision in the Inflation Reduction Act includes $200 million for job training in the energy efficiency sector, and that investment alone is projected to create 50,000 jobs over the next few years. In total, this measure is a win-win-win: it will save homeowners money, generate more good-paying jobs, and help confront the climate crisis by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The other provision I authored creates a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which will provide resources that can be used to launch a National Climate Bank to partner with the private sector and community-based lenders to make an array of investments in clean energy technologies and energy efficiency improvements. This will serve as a force multiplier for the development and deployment of clean energy on a national, regional, and local scale. Additionally, 40 percent of the general funding in the provision will be used for targeted investments to underserved communities that have been overburdened by pollution. 

The Inflation Reduction Act also includes over $60 billion in tax credits to boost clean technology manufacturing. These tax credits are going to incentivize green energy companies to do business in the U.S., build their factories in the U.S., and employ American workers – investments that are critical for the continued economic success of our state and our country. Right now, two clean energy companies are building wind turbine fabrication centers in Maryland to support their offshore wind farms coming to the mid-Atlantic – and together, these projects will create a minimum of 10,000 jobs over the next several years. By making the U.S. even more attractive for other green energy companies through the new tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act, we’ll be able to spur additional economic growth in our state and across the country – all while fighting the existential threat of climate change.

In short, the transformative Inflation Reduction Act will address a number of critical challenges facing our nation, including our fight against the climate emergency, our battle to lower the costs of prescription drugs, health care, and other important needs, and our efforts to build an economy that invests in more prosperity and opportunity for all Americans.

Standing Up to Big Money Special Interests

Following the infamous 5-4 decision in the Supreme Court case Citizens United, big-money special interest groups started pouring dark money into our elections in an effort to completely reshape our democracy. That’s why I authored the DISCLOSE Act during my time in the House of Representatives – and why for years, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and I have been sounding the alarm about the urgent need to pass it so we can shine a light on this secret political spending in elections.

Last week, the Senate took that legislation up for a vote, and I urged Republicans to finally join us in standing up to special interests and giving voters the right to know who is spending gobs of money to influence their votes. In recent years, some Republicans have expressed concern about the power of dark money, and this was a chance for them to prove whether they really want dark money out of our politics – or whether this is just more hypocrisy.

Instead of standing with us to make our democracy stronger, Republicans blocked our legislation with the anti-democratic filibuster, effectively giving the go-ahead for big special interest groups to keep dumping billions in dark money into our politics. But even though the Senate GOP blocked our bill, the fight goes on. I will never stop working to put the voices of the American people before big money special interests. But I need your help to get that done. Democracy isn’t a spectator sport. Our success as a nation depends upon an informed citizenry ready and willing to tackle the most pressing challenges of our day.

Bringing Manufacturing Back to America

Over the summer, the Senate took up the CHIPS and Science Act, bipartisan legislation to boost American leadership in innovation and technology. This bill invests in American semiconductor manufacturing, research and development, and emerging technologies – and will, over time, lower costs for Americans, create good-paying jobs domestically, strengthen our country’s national and economic security, improve our supply chains, and sharpen our competitive edge in the global economy. When it comes to technology, standing still means falling behind – and this bipartisan bill will help bolster American innovation and help ensure we remain the world leader in cutting-edge technologies – from artificial intelligence to quantum computing. 

I fought hard to pass this bill – and have spoken repeatedly on the importance of making this investment in our nation, from the bill’s introduction last year to the floor debate on this legislation only a few weeks ago. I also authored several measures within the final package that passed Congress, including one to establish a mechanism to ensure the United States develops a national strategy to invest in the key technologies of the future – and another to ensure we put all of our brainpower to work by expanding research capacity at Maryland HBCUs and peer institutions across the country. On top of that, the CHIPS and Science Act authorizes a doubling of the overall budget of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which has its headquarters in Gaithersburg – and that new authorization also marks a tripling of funding for the manufacturing public-private partnerships program at NIST. These investments will help supercharge American development and discovery and support the work of Marylanders on the front lines of cutting-edge federal research.

This new law marks an important step forward for American technological leadership on the global stage and will help keep our economy strong. After that bill became law, I joined federal and local leaders in Frederick to discuss how we can seize this moment in our history to ensure Maryland is at the global center of high-tech manufacturing – and I am confident that the CHIPS and Science Act will help us move that mission forward.

Honoring Our Promise to America's Veterans

We’ve got to keep our promises to veterans who put themselves at risk to serve our country, and that includes ensuring they have access to high-quality health care. That’s why we took action to pass the bipartisan PACT Act, which provides health care benefits for all generations of toxic-exposed veterans for the first time in our nation’s history and will improve access to care for all those who served in our nation’s armed forces. This legislation also provides $75 million for the VA to expand and upgrade its network of veteran outpatient clinics in Maryland, including $43 million to support the construction of a new Baltimore Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) and $32 million for the construction of a new Prince George’s CBOC.

Taken together, all of the elements in this legislation mark a huge win for our communities and a critical step forward in improving access to quality health care for veterans across our state. I fought to send this bill to the President’s desk alongside key Senate colleagues – and this historic bill is now the law of the land.

Partnering With Community Leaders

The Senate has made major progress over the past few months in addressing the challenges our communities face every day. But those victories wouldn’t have been possible without the tireless work of advocates and leaders from across our state who have been demanding change – and working closely with me and my colleagues in our nation’s capital to make that change happen.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve met with Maryland seniors, health care champions, climate leaders, and so many others to discuss the important work we’ve been doing in the Senate. I’ve joined Marylanders across our communities to celebrate what the Inflation Reduction Act does for our state and our country – from faith leaders in Baltimore to nonprofit advocates on the front lines of building out a modern 21st century workforce. On top of that, I recently joined an AARP Maryland Town Hall to discuss how this law will be a game-changer for our seniors.

When we were fighting to pass the PACT Act, I spoke with veterans outside the Capitol to thank them for all they’ve done – and voice my support for this landmark legislation. And in August, I spoke with leaders from the Maryland Association of Counties about how Maryland will benefit from the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and other federal initiatives. While I was on the Eastern Shore, I had the honor of joining Maryland’s National Aquarium to release two sea turtles – named Cello and Bassoon – back into the wild, and I look forward to continuing my work with the National Aquarium family to get the Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Act across the finish line to create a permanent federal grant program to support organizations responding to and caring for threatened and endangered sea turtles.

These experiences have affirmed my steadfast belief that we are stronger together – working shoulder-to-shoulder in order to deliver for our communities. It’s in that spirit that I hope you will continue to stay engaged.






               Chris Van Hollen