Chris Van Hollen
Kensington, Montgomery County
Bachelor of Arts degree from Swarthmore College, Master of Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School at Harvard University, and a Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center.
I've served the people of Maryland in elected office in the U.S. House of Representatives, Maryland State Senate, and Maryland House of Delegates. I also worked as a legislative assistant for defense and foreign policy to U.S. Senator Charles Mathias (R-Md.), as a staff member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and a legislative advisor for federal affairs to Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer.
Why are you running for office?
We stand at a pivotal moment that requires bold action to meet the big challenges we face. I am running for re-election to the United States Senate to uphold our values of justice, equality, and freedom; to protect our democracy; and to continue to deliver real results for all the people of Maryland and our country.
What is the most pressing issue in your state or district?
We must continue our work to build a more perfect union by creating a more inclusive economy that works for all Americans, not just the wealthiest few — growing more good paying jobs, increasing access to affordable childcare, providing a quality education for all, lowering everyday costs like health care and prescription drugs, committing to dignity in retirement, and protecting our environment, the Chesapeake Bay, and tackling climate change.
What does the U.S. need to do to combat climate change?
The climate crisis is here, and we must address the damage that it is wreaking on our communities. Like many other coastal communities, Maryland is particularly vulnerable. That's why I proposed the Polluters Pay Climate Fund plan to require the worst emitters of greenhouse gases — mostly Big Oil companies — to help pay the costs of climate clean-up. I'm fighting to pass this and make sweeping investments to tackle the climate crisis. I helped write a Senate budget plan that includes proposals to confront the climate crisis head on. Among them is the Clean Energy Accelerator, a public financing authority which will incentivize the deployment of much more private capital into clean energy and another provision that will help homeowners save by making their houses more energy efficient. I also worked to pass an infrastructure bill that includes investments in clean alternatives, like transit and electric vehicles.
How do you assess the United States' response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine?
Putin's brutal war against Ukraine is not only an attack on its sovereignty, but also on freedom and democracy. The United States is leading the effort to unite NATO and other partners in support the Ukrainian people by providing weapons, applying punishing economic sanctions against Putin's Russia, and isolating Russia with the global community. I have been actively engaged with President Biden in working to provide resources for this strategy, and helping to address the humanitarian crisis. We must keep raising the costs for Putin on his path of aggression -- and ensure that his decision to unleash unprovoked violence in the heart of Europe is remembered as an epic miscalculation to overthrow democratically-elected governments and violate international law.
What should the U.S. do regarding the legal status and prospective citizenship for undocumented immigrants living here?
America is a nation of immigrants, from our founding to today. I believe that enabling immigrants to become a strong and vital part of our country is not only consistent with our values but is a proven path to strengthening our economic future. I support comprehensive immigration reform initiatives, which would combine a path to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS recipients and others with effective border security.
How would you describe what happened at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6?
The January 6th attack was an unprecedented assault on the peaceful certification of our democratic election results incited by a sitting president in an effort to retain power illegally. As we learn more about the events leading up to and including that day, it's clear the outcome was far from certain. Had it not been for the Capitol police, as well as the local police and the National Guard including many from Maryland, the certification vote might have been stopped. The Republican Party has refused to denounce the Big Lie that fed the attack. After the coup at the Capitol failed, I voted for a commission to investigate the January 6th attack, which was blocked in the Senate by a Republican filibuster. I wholeheartedly support the bipartisan House investigation to get to the bottom of this attack on our democracy and to provide the American people the answers they deserve.
What should the U.S. do now to prepare for the next pandemic?
I pushed for and delivered vital funding for economic relief to help Maryland families, workers, and small businesses during the pandemic, including direct support payments for families, rental and food assistance, delivery of essential aid for seniors, and resources to beat the virus and improve accessibility and equity of vaccine distribution. We've learned from this pandemic about the need to strengthen our supply chain, including investing further in domestic manufacturing, and how to work on a global scale to meet the challenges of a pandemic impacting the entire world. We need to ensure we have the tools to beat back future threats that will continue to allow families to live safely and our economy to thrive, including continued health research at agencies like NIH to be ready to respond, and support for global health programs to confront variants. I'm working in Congress to pass additional funding to do just that.
What's the right balance for U.S. transportation spending between roads and transit?
We passed a historic infrastructure modernization plan that will put more Marylanders to work in good-paying jobs, building out the physical backbone of our country for this century. I'm proud to have fought successfully to include key initiatives that benefit all Marylanders in both of these historic measures, including funds to expand access to affordable high-speed internet; upgrade our roads, bridges, ports, and transit systems; right the wrongs of past infrastructure wrongs like the termination of the Red Line and projects like the Highway to Nowhere; and protect the Chesapeake Bay. These measures benefit Marylanders in every part of our state, but they also reflect the needs of the rich diversity of our communities and our varied landscape from the mountains of Western Maryland to the Eastern Shore, from Baltimore to the Washington suburbs and Southern Maryland. The appropriate mix of transportation resources depends on the needs of local communities.
What would you have the nation do to better address income inequality?
I believe the challenge of our time is building a stronger, more inclusive economy with more shared prosperity. That's why I have led the charge to increase paychecks and benefits for working families and cut the costs of everything from prescription drugs to childcare. We can pay for much-needed investments in hardworking families by closing corporate tax breaks that allow big multinational corporations to stash their profits in places like the Cayman Islands and by asking millionaires and billionaires to contribute fairly. With policies like this we can deliver on true economic justice. We have the power to overcome adversity, hold true to the fundamental principles our country was founded on, and the ability to leave our children an even better country and world than we found.
Describe your position on the Electoral Count Act, which would put ‚Äúguardrails‚Äù around the certification of presidential elections?
Throughout my time in public service, I have worked to protect the right to vote and fight back against discriminatory attempts to disenfranchise Americans. As an original sponsor of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, I believe we must urgently fortify our democracy against the "Big Lie" and voter suppression laws in addition to reforming the Electoral Count Act. These actions also go hand-in-hand with my fight to rid our elections of secret, dark money that puts special interests above the American people. I strongly support getting rid of the super-majority rule to end the filibuster and taking whatever steps are necessary to protect the right to vote for all Americans. We cannot allow the Big Lie to perpetuate an assault on the sanctity of our elections.
Who's your top choice for president in 2024 and why?
Since President Biden was sworn-in, we have taken bold steps to defeat the pandemic and help families, workers, small businesses, and others weather the economic storm. Our work to pass the American Rescue Plan accelerated the deployment of vaccines to save lives and extended a financial lifeline to millions of struggling Marylanders while spurring record job growth. We also passed a historic infrastructure modernization plan that will put more Marylanders to work in good-paying jobs, building out the physical backbone of our country for the 21st century. I am proud to have fought successfully to include many key initiatives that benefit all Marylanders in both of these historic measures. Should he choose to run, I look forward to supporting President Biden's re-election in 2024 to continue to fight for all Marylanders.
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