Members of Maryland’s delegation to the 116th U.S. Congress are expected to play key roles in the new session that begins Thursday, particularly in the House of Representatives, where Democrats are taking back control of the chamber. Representatives and senators will start the new year’s session amid a partial federal government shutdown that’s nearing two weeks in duration.
Rep. Andy Harris (Republican)
Harris, the delegation's only Republican, won re-election in November with 60 percent of the vote, but saw his party lose its House majority. He has an important White House connection in acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who was a colleague of Harris in the House Freedom Caucus, a conservative and libertarian group.
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (Democrat)
Ruppersberger is a member of the House Appropriations Committee. He also maintains an interest in defense and intelligence issues, having served on the House Select Committee on Intelligence until 2015. He said he had “nightmares” after U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis announced his resignation Dec. 20.
Rep. John Sarbanes (Democrat):
Sarbanes chairs a government reform task force whose principal concerns — including minimizing the influence of special interests and ensuring fair elections — are poised to receive more attention in the new Congress. He was a principal architect of a broad measure that House Democrats intend to rally around early in the session. It contains ethics reform, campaign finance reform and voting rights protections.
Rep. Anthony Brown (Democrat)
A retired colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, Brown expects to remain on the House Armed Services Committee and the Ethics Committee. His Washington-area district includes 380,000 veterans and more than 100,000 current and former federal employees. He has accused President Donald Trump of holding "thousands of working families’ pay and essential government services hostage" during the shutdown.
Rep. Steny Hoyer (Democrat):
Hoyer is returning to the House majority leader post he held from 2007 to 2011. It's the highest rank a Marylander has ever held in the chamber. He said in an interview that his party’s agenda is expected to include “common-sense” measures to prevent gun violence, protecting affordable health insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, and restoring a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers,” whose parents brought them to the U.S. as children.
Rep. David Trone (Democrat)
Trone is Maryland’s only first-term congressman, and his committee assignments were not complete Wednesday. He says his priorities include the opioid epidemic, criminal justice reform and medical research funding. Trone succeeds Democrat John Delaney, who is running for president.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (Democrat)
Cummings was expected to become chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, the principal investigating committee in the House. He announced Tuesday that he was changing the name of the committee from the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform “to better reflect our true jurisdiction, which covers both government and the private sector.” The Baltimore Democrat said his agenda could include exploring policies and practices of the administration of Republican President Donald Trump on prescription drug prices, as well as health insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (Democrat)
Raskin was recently elected by Democratic colleagues to a party leadership post in the House. He will represent the five most junior classes of the Democratic caucus. His key issues include health care, prescription drug price reform, climate change, gun violence reduction and immigration reform.
Sen. Ben Cardin (Democrat):
Cardin, who just won re-election, is the top Democrat on the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and a senior member of the Foreign Relations and Environment and Public Works committees. His priorities in the new year include reintroducing a joint resolution that would remove a deadline for the Equal Rights Amendment to be ratified. The measure must be ratified by three-fourths of the states.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (Democrat):
A member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Van Hollen is expected to continue as a prominent national voice of opposition to Trump. "Scary times for the country when the president hates the truth," he tweeted Dec. 23. Van Hollen is pushing for a cost-of-living increase for federal workers and sponsored Senate-passed legislation to guarantee back pay for workers furloughed during the government shutdown.