Saint Mary's County
University of Maryland (B.S.); Georgetown University Law Center (J.D.)
Maryland State Senator, 1967-1979, President of Maryland State Senate
Why are you running for office?
I am running to continue delivering results for Marylanders across the Fifth Congressional District. My record is strong — from advancing projects such as the New Consolidated FBI Headquarters, to delivering billions of federal dollars for Maryland to rebound from this pandemic and this public health crisis. However, this pandemic has shown us that more work is ahead for Marylanders for greater economic security, access to high-quality and affordable health care, and ensuring that our future is not threated by the damaging impacts of climate change. I've built a career on protecting the rights of voters, fighting for protections for federal employees, and strengthening education. I'm proud to represent the Fifth District and believe strongly that I have a record of successfully working with President Biden, Democrats in the Senate, my colleagues in the House, and state and local leaders to ensure that the needs of Fifth-District residents are met.
What is the most pressing issue in your state or district?
After two years of a once-in-a-century pandemic that has taken a a vast toll on our economy and public health, I believe one of the most pressing issues facing our district is the need to rebuild stronger and more equitably so every Marylander has access to economic opportunity. That is why, as Majority Leader, I brought to the House Floor and proudly supported legislation such as the CARES Act, American Rescue Plan, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. I believe that strengthening economic opportunities is a crucial part of moving our state and Fifth District forward so that more residents have the tools they need to Make It In America.
What does the U.S. need to do to combat climate change?
The global climate crisis is an existential threat that must be met with bold, robust action. I am glad that the President Biden has made confronting climate change a central pillar of his Administration's agenda and has followed through on his promises to the American people by announcing strong actions to cut carbon emissions, help expand clean-energy solutions, grow our clean-energy market by investing in electric vehicles, and more. Last fall, to complement President Biden's initiatives around deforestation, I introduced H.R. 5830, the America Mitigating and Achieving Zero-emissions Originating from Nature for the 21st Century Act — or "AMAZON21" — which would authorize a trust fund of $9 billion for the State Department to enter long-term bilateral agreements with developing countries to assist them in ending deforestation and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. This legislation will fight deforestation and help conserve carbon sinks around the world.
How do you assess the United States' response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine?
The United States is continuing to respond to Vladimir Putin's criminal, unjustified, and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by supplying, funding, and supporting military operations and by listening to the needs of the Ukrainian people. The United States and our global allies stand ready to support the people of Ukraine and hold Putin and his fellow felons responsible for the heinous war crimes and suffering Russia has caused. The United States must continue to stand with the Ukrainian people and ensure that Russia experiences a strategic loss that deters other dictators from copying from Putin's playbook.
What should the U.S. do regarding the legal status and prospective citizenship for undocumented immigrants living here?
In my time as Majority Leader, I've brought to the House Floor and supported bipartisan legislation including H.R. 6, the Dream and Promise Act, which will provide Dreamers and those here on T.P.S. and D.E.D. status with a pathway to citizenship and lawful permanent resident status. We must have comprehensive immigration reform which includes secure borders. There is a lot of work ahead to ensure America's immigration policies are humane and consistent with our founding principles. This starts by protecting Dreamers and T.P.S. recipients and those with D.E.D. status, many of whom have only known the United States as a home and have made great contributions to our country.
How would you describe what happened at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6?
What happened on January 6, 2021, was a dark day for our nation and for our democracy. The former President of the United States was directly responsible for an insurrection that claimed lives and wounded many, particularly law enforcement. It was a tragic day for our country and a reminder of the work we must do to defend our democracy from threats both foreign and domestic.
What should the U.S. do now to prepare for the next pandemic?
This pandemic has shown, not just in the United States but in countries around the world, just how critical public-health infrastructure is in our communities. We must invest in our public-health infrastructure and confront longstanding inequalities that made this pandemic worse for people of color and marginalized communities by investing in their health-care needs and ensuring that pathways to economic security and prosperity are not obstructed by bias and bigotry. It is also critical that we continue to promote vaccination and to combat misinformation that deters people from following the guidance of trusted public health experts who are working hard to keep the American people safe and healthy.
What's the right balance for U.S. transportation spending between roads and transit?
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that I brought to the House Floor last year was supported by a bicameral coalition of Democrats and Republicans; this law strikes the right balance. I'm pleased that Maryland will receive over $7 billion in funding to help repair our roads, bridges, railways, and more. In the Washington Metro area, we have heavy WMATA ridership, and I've been proud to advocate for substantial investments in our metro rail that ensures riders are safe, including in this new law. I look forward to seeing how we can use this spending to modernize and upgrade infrastructure effectively — both for roads and transit systems desperately in need of repair and improvements.
What would you have the nation do to better address income inequality?
We need to address historic wrongs that have prevented communities of color from accessing economic opportunity and building wealth over generations. That includes dismantling discriminatory policies in home-buying, raising the federal minimum wage, bolstering resources for small- and minority-owned businesses, and strengthening resources for students at HBCUs and MSIs. We must also strengthen the rights of working people to organize and bargain effectively. As a nation, we must have an open dialogue about these challenges and solutions and make it a national priority to act on them and repair the damage done historically to communities of color.
Describe your position on the Electoral Count Act, which would put ‚Äúguardrails‚Äù around the certification of presidential elections?
There is a legitimate concern about the risk January 6, 2021, posed to our democracy. That's why I've been fighting to set up guardrails that not only keep our democracy safe from corruption but ensure voters are not intimidated or prevented from casting ballots. I've been a champion for legislation like H.R. 1, For the People Act, H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the Freedom to Vote Act, which I brought to the Floor and helped secure passage of in the House of Representatives. Republicans have been relentless in working to roll back critical voter protections. My dear friend and brother Rep. John Lewis devoted his life to prevent this from happening, and we ought to follow in his footsteps. I believe that government must be rid of dark money and that we must engage in reforms that put power back in the hands of voters.
Who's your top choice for president in 2024 and why?
I support President Biden and the Biden-Harris Administration. This Administration puts the values of our country and democracy first, and it has been steadfast in improving the lives of Americans with historic and transformative action. President Biden is a leader who can speak to the American people and unite the country during this challenging time of division and crisis, as his victory in 2020 showed was possible. The dangers and uncertainties we face at home and around the world make it imperative that we have strong, experienced, and visionary leadership in the White House.
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