December 28, 2022

Delivering Big Wins for Maryland and the Nation

As the year winds down, Congress is wrapping up one of the most productive two-year periods in recent history. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and all its impacts, the 117th Session has made historic advances on several fronts. 

This progress began nearly two years ago, when we passed the American Rescue Plan – which got vaccine shots in arms, helped shore up small businesses, and gave our economy the boost it needed to prevent long-term damage. We followed that key measure with another piece of ground-breaking legislation: the infrastructure modernization law – the single largest investment in our nation’s transportation networks, ports, communications, and water systems in decades. Through this law, we’re delivering over $7 billion to Maryland over the next five years for roads, bridges, broadband, transit, water systems, and more – to fix the aging infrastructure of the past and build the physical backbone of the 21st century. And, in addition to those guaranteed funds coming to our state, this initiative also includes nearly $150 billion in competitive national grant funding – and Maryland counties and cities have already begun to compete successfully for those funds. 

This year, Congress kicked our efforts into even higher gear with a series of major legislative achievements – from the PACT Act to provide better health care for our veterans, to the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to take a meaningful step forward on gun safety, to the CHIPS and Science Act to sharpen America’s competitive edge and bring manufacturing jobs back home. Finally, in the culmination of many of our efforts, we succeeded in passing the Inflation Reduction Act, which will help us lower the price of Medicare prescription drugs, confront the climate crisis, and ensure that wealthy corporations pay more of their fair share. This transformative measure will help build a better future for our nation and our world.

We’ve gotten a lot done this Congress – but our work is far from over. Going forward, we need to make sure all of the federal resources we signed into law get out the door and into our communities. Now is our chance to implement the legislative victories we’ve secured in a targeted and equitable way – so we can strengthen Maryland’s infrastructure, ensure true public safety, lower the cost of everyday items, fight the climate crisis, ensure greater access to affordable health care, open the doors to opportunity even wider for our children and Maryland families, and grow more shared prosperity for all. I know we’ll meet those challenges head-on by working together.

Keeping Maryland Strong

As we’ve worked to achieve our year-end priorities, I’ve partnered with colleagues from both parties to pass legislation that will directly benefit Marylanders everywhere.

This month, Congress passed a major bill to fund the government through next fall, preventing a shameful shutdown and investing in the priorities of our nation over the next year. I fought for key provisions in that bill to improve Americans’ access to child care, expand educational and workforce training opportunities, provide quality and affordable health care, conserve our environment and the Chesapeake Bay, and build more shared prosperity. I also worked to include major wins for our state – from historic resources for Bay clean-up efforts to a fairer process for moving forward to select the site for a new FBI headquarters in our region. The bill also bolsters the work of Marylanders at the heart of our federal workforce – backing our civilian employees, advancing ground-breaking work at our research agencies and medical institutions like NIH, and helping provide services to our constituents. These highlights are in addition to the more than $215 million in direct federal investments that I helped secure alongside Senator Cardin for local projects in communities across Maryland – to boost economic opportunity, enhance public safety, and expand access to health care and many other important services. While I was deeply disappointed that Republicans refused to support a number of key priorities, it was vital that we pass a new government funding bill instead of kicking the can down the road. On balance, this package will meaningfully invest in the critical priorities of our state and nation.

On top of that, I fought successfully to secure provisions from my HBCU RISE Act to spur more advanced research investment in Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions – including Morgan State University and UMES here in Maryland – through the annual defense bill passed by Congress. I also worked to include provisions in that legislation from my Service to the Fleet Act to authorize $636 million for a major infrastructure overhaul of the Curtis Bay Coast Guard Yard in Maryland that will go toward upgrading the WWII-era facilities there. The Yard is the Coast Guard’s sole shipbuilding and major repair facility as well as a critical economic driver for Maryland, directly and indirectly creating thousands of good-paying skilled union jobs. We know the Yard and the hard-working men and women who keep it running need the proper infrastructure and equipment to continue to provide top-notch support for our nation’s homeland defense, which is why our push to deliver these essential funds is so important.

Lastly, this bill includes language I authored to address a concern I’ve heard about directly from constituents regarding the loss of their documents when applying for passports. My new provision will ensure that passports and the documents that accompany them can be sent back to applicants by tracked mail so folks don’t encounter these problems. 

Taken together, these provisions will improve the lives of everyday Marylanders and help our nation thrive for years to come.

Fighting for Justice, Equality, and Love

No American should face discrimination – no matter whom they love or where they live. But in the wake of the Supreme Court’s polarizing actions over the past few years and efforts by Republican-controlled state legislatures to strip away rights that Americans hold dear, it’s clear that basic constitutional protections are under assault. That includes protections for interracial couples and same-sex couples everywhere. We knew Congress needed to act – and that’s what we did.

The Respect for Marriage Act promises married couples that their union will be given equal recognition and protection across the United States, providing the peace of mind that no court, state legislature, or local government can interfere with their marriage. I was proud to cast my vote in favor of this bill, and I joined President Biden at the White House as his signature affirmed what we already know to be true: love wins!

This is an important step forward, but we have so much farther to go in ensuring that all of our communities are afforded equal rights and equal protection under the law – and I’ll keep fighting to ensure equal and just treatment for every American.

Ringing in the New Year

The New Year marks a season of optimism, as we look ahead toward brighter days. We’ve accomplished so much already, but I know we can do even more in the weeks, months, and years to come. And we’re entering 2023 with a group of public servants from all across our state who are determined to tackle the challenges we face. From my colleagues in the Maryland congressional delegation, to new leadership in Annapolis, to strong local leaders and dedicated community partners, Team Maryland is poised to accomplish many good things. I look forward to working with our new Governor-Elect Wes Moore, Lieutenant Governor-Elect Aruna Miller, and all Marylanders to move our state and our country forward. 

It’s in that spirit that I want to wish everyone a season of love, light, and hope as we ring in the New Year, and I look forward to hearing from you soon – so we can hit the ground running in 2023!




               Chris Van Hollen