Congressman Anthony Brown visited the Capital Gazette office on Monday June 5, 2017.
Congressman Anthony Brown caught flak from some and praise from others when he decided not to attend President Donald Trump's inauguration in January.
Six months later, the first-term Democrat said he stands by the choice.
"In hindsight, I am even more convinced that my decision was right, because I thought that was the most shameful 15 minutes of an inaugural address that I have ever seen personally," he said.
While some criticized Brown's absence as a mark of disrespect for the new president, he said he considered the inauguration "as more of a celebration, less of work."
"I attended the president's first address to the joint session of Congress; I believe it is my duty to be present when the president is delivering a statement or a policy to the Congress," he said. "It's his assessment, his evaluation; it's our chamber and I was there and taking notes."
"In contrast, I viewed the inauguration as more celebratory than duty performance."
Brown, who represents parts of Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties in Maryland's 4th District, has had to explain his stance on the inauguration several times before, as part of the town halls he's started to hold for constituents.
The goal, he said, is to hold one event in Anne Arundel County for every three he schedules in Prince George's, a ratio that echoes the roughly 25 percent of his district that lies in Anne Arundel.
Brown, who formerly served as Maryland's lieutenant governor and lost the 2014 gubernatorial race to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, also recently opened an office at 2666 Riva Road in Annapolis.
He shared an update on his first months in office in a wide-ranging, hourlong interview with editors and reporters from The Capital on Monday.
Brown said his observations of partisanship in Annapolis pale in comparison to the gridlock on Capitol Hill.
"The biggest surprise for me was the institutional discouragement of bipartisan cooperation," he said. "We've got to crack that."
The congressman has so far introduced four bills in the House, including one that would require the president to offer just cause for firing the director of the FBI.
Brown acknowledged the bill, which was introduced in reaction to Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey, stands little chance of finding bipartisan support in Congress, which is controlled by Republicans in both chambers.
He has higher hopes for a bill that seeks to bar convicted stalkers and those under temporary restraining orders from buying guns. Brown, whose cousin was killed by her estranged boyfriend nearly a decade ago, helped pass a similar measure in Maryland as a delegate.
Though any legislation that involves restricting gun rights runs the risk of becoming quickly polarized, Brown said he had a list of several Republicans who might see the bill as a law enforcement protection measure.
Those potential allies "are very supportive of law enforcement and understand that when law enforcement responds to a domestic violence call, it's probably one of the most dangerous calls they have to respond to," he said.
Of Brown's other two proposals, one would reduce the mortgage insurance premium rate and the second would offer a research and development tax credit for manufacturers.
He's also had a chance to meet with Trump, as part of a meeting between the president and the Congressional Black Caucus.
Locally, he said he's working with the Maryland delegation to find a solution for concerns about the Next Generation Air Transportation System, which has drawn complaints from local residents disturbed by noise from low-flying planes since it was implemented in 2014.
Brown said he hopes to avoid following in the footsteps of jurisdictions like Phoenix, Arizona, and Newport Beach, California, which have sued the Federal Aviation Administration over the new system.
"I think there is a solution that can be found; compromises that can be reached," he said.
Brown said he's also been in contact with County Executive Steve Schuh about a potential agreement with the federal government that would allow U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house undocumented immigrants awaiting trial in county jail.
While he said he's "not a fan of bringing resources of Immigration and Customs Enforcement into Anne Arundel County anywhere," Brown said Schuh had assured him the agreement would only concern the detention system, and not policing practices.
"I'm comfortable with that at this point," he said, "but if this thing looks like it's going to spill over into the community by grant money or other training and resources, or for the beat cop to take on these activities, I certainly would look to up my opposition, though it's an uphill battle, because he's got a president who's embracing this type of activity."
Though he's been in office for less than a year, the 2018 election already seems to be fast approaching. Thereasa Black, a U.S. Naval reservist, recently launched a campaign as a Democratic candidate for Brown's seat.