Chris Van HollenChris Van Hollen – MD

Current Position: US Senator
Affiliation: Democrat
Former Positions: US Representative District 8 from 2003 – 2017; State Senator from 1995 – 2003; Lawyer from 1990 – 2003
Other Positions:  Chair, Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government

In 2007, Van Hollen became the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). His father was a Foreign Service officer. Van Hollen worked as a legislative assistant for defense and foreign policy to U.S. Senator Charles Mathias and a legislative advisor for federal affairs to Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer. He joined the law firm of Arent Fox.

OnAir Post: Chris Van Hollen – MD


Current Position: US Senator
Affiliation: Democrat
Former Positions: US Representative District 8 from 2003 – 2017; State Senator from 1995 – 2003; Lawyer from 1990 – 2003
Other Positions:  Chair, Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government

In 2007, Van Hollen became the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). His father was a Foreign Service officer. Van Hollen worked as a legislative assistant for defense and foreign policy to U.S. Senator Charles Mathias and a legislative advisor for federal affairs to Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer. He joined the law firm of Arent Fox.

OnAir Post: Chris Van Hollen – MD


Reducing Healthcare Spending While Improving Quality Of Care
Forbes Breaking NewsMarch 12, 2024 (04:11)

During a Senate Budget Committee hearing last week, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) questioned witnesses about growing healthcare costs and improving the healthcare system. Fuel your success with Forbes. Gain unlimited access to premium journalism, including breaking news, groundbreaking in-depth reported stories, daily digests and more. Plus, members get a front-row seat at members-only events with leading thinkers and doers, access to premium video that can help you get ahead, an ad-light experience, early access to select products including NFT drops and more:

Why America Isn’t Using Its Leverage with Israel
New Yorker, Issac ChotinerMarch 7, 2024

Senator Chris Van Hollen on the catastrophe in Gaza and his differences with the Biden Administration

oday, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) announced Senate passage of their bipartisan legislation to ensure foreign U.S. government employees who have provided exceptional service to our nation abroad have a secure and efficient path to immigrate to the United States, along with their families. This legislation, the GRATEFUL Act, will cut the years-long wait time to receive visas that these employees and their family members now face. The Senators included their bill in the final Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which they voted to pass in the Senate Wednesday. It is expected to be considered by the House of Representatives later this week.

“The United States counts on foreign nationals with deep knowledge of their home countries to help us carry out essential operations abroad, and in the process, they often risk their lives through civil unrest, natural disasters, and war. This longstanding immigrant visa program recognizes the exceptional careers of these U.S. government employees abroad by granting them the opportunity to live safely in America with their families. At a time when eligible candidates are facing an estimated 14-year wait to receive their visas, the passage of the GRATEFUL Act will preserve this vital program and help ensure we honor our commitment to those who endured great risk to help advance U.S. missions abroad,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“US employees abroad are on the front lines of our foreign policy objectives, and the GIV program is a long standing incentive for recruiting and retaining talent,” said Senator Tillis. “The GRATEFUL Act will ensure we are able to keep our commitment to exceptional employees who serve the US, and to keep our nation safer.”

Background on the GRATEFUL Act

In 1952, Congress created a visa category to recognize U.S. government employees abroad for their service to the United States. For 70 years, this program has allowed foreign nationals with at least 15 years of exceptional service to the United States to immigrate with their families. During their careers, these employees risk their lives year after year through civil unrest, terrorism, natural disasters, and war – underscored in May 2023 when three local employees were brutally murdered in the line of duty in Nigeria. Their work is foundational to our foreign policy and ensures the safety and well-being of U.S. citizens, provides security and logistics for U.S. officials, and supports operations abroad. The GRATEFUL (Granting Recognition to Accomplished Talented Employees for Unwavering Loyalty) Act renames this the Government Employee Immigrant Visa (GIV) program, and this program provides a unique incentive to hire and retain employees abroad.

In the 1990s, U.S. government employees abroad were placed in the Employment Based Fourth Preference (EB4) immigrant visa category. Out of a total of 140,000 employment visas available annually, the EB4 category is numerically limited to 7.1% of the overall allocation – around 9,940 per year. Over the years, EB4 became a catch-all category for a wide range of immigrants such as religious workers, retired employees of international organizations or NATO civilian employees, certain physicians, Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJ), and Panama Canal workers.

For the first time in its history, this program is in jeopardy. As a result of the growing demand for other visa classifications in the EB4 category, there is a backlog of over 118,000 EB4 cases – thus visas are not immediately available to retiring U.S. government employees abroad. Applicants must wait an estimated 14 years between qualifying for and receiving a visa, meaning employees who work a full career and retire at 65 may not be able to begin the visa process until they are nearing their 80s.

The GRATEFUL Act preserves visa availability for U.S. government employees abroad by repurposing the Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) visa offset, an existing carve-out from the Diversity Visa (DV) program created in 1999 that is sparsely used today. Since 1999, NACARA has offset 5,000 visas per year from the DV program, and usage has dwindled to about 150 per year. This bill redirects 3,500 visas in FY2024, and 3,000 visas each year after into the GIV program. This will not add to overall visa numbers. In testimony on June 7, 2023, the Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs stated that the passage of this bill is a top priority for the State Department.

October 7, 2024 newsletter
Newsletter, RepresentativeNovember 19, 2023

Senate Update: Shutdown Averted, but Republican Chaos in House Threatens Further Progress

One week ago today, at the 11th hour, the Congress narrowly averted a government shutdown. As a result, we avoided major disruptions to our economy and vital government services Americans rely on.

That’s the good news. But we came far too close to the precipice, and the clock is already ticking toward the next government funding deadline of November 17th. If we don’t get a bipartisan agreement by then, the government will shut down, and our economy and millions of American families will suffer. Instead of abiding by the agreement reached between President Biden and Speaker McCarthy months ago, the extreme MAGA Republicans have triggered mass chaos in the House by removing the Speaker with no clear substitute on the horizon. The most specific action they have taken since then was the petty and small-minded order to evict former Speaker Pelosi from her Capitol office. This is a bad sign of things to come.

Make no mistake, this dysfunction is hurting the country. It is going to make it harder for us to finalize a budget for this fiscal year, keep the government open, and send much needed aid to Ukraine – something a majority of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle support. We have a short time to pass an updated budget plan that meets the needs of our country. Bipartisan agreement is the only way to achieve that and to avoid a shameful government shutdown. Republicans in the House need to sideline their most extreme elements so we can get the job done.

Standing Up for Democracy and Keeping our Promise to the Ukrainian People

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking in the Old Senate Chamber, recently delivered a clear message: this is no time to waver in our support for Ukraine. We’re at a pivotal point in the war, and Putin is counting on us to abandon Ukraine. Each day the war grinds on, Putin’s brutality exceeds the last. As his advance has been slowed by brave Ukrainian soldiers, Putin’s barbaric war crimes have mounted.

When Putin’s forces invaded Ukraine in February of last year, we stood together as Americans in opposition to this horrific assault on a democracy and its people. The United States and our allies are giving military and economic assistance; the Ukrainian people are shedding blood and giving lives. To date, 80,000 alleged Russian war crimes are being investigated – approximately 1 war crime every 10 minutes. Without additional U.S. aid, we would leave Ukraine increasingly defenseless against these assaults. And this is not only a battle for the future of freedom in Ukraine; it is also a fight to protect democracies against autocrats around the world. Our allies and adversaries alike are watching closely to see if we will abandon the people of Ukraine and surrender in the battle to protect democracy. This is a test we cannot afford to fail.

Tommy Tuberville’s Military Fumble

For months, former football coach and now senator, Tommy Tuberville, has blocked hundreds of military promotions and nominations in protest of Pentagon protections for service members’ reproductive care. This includes holding up confirmation votes on the nominations of officers in crucial roles across five Maryland based commands, including the Superintendent for the United States Naval Academy and the Commander of U.S. Cyber Command. While every Senator has the right to have his or her say in the promotion of military personnel, we have never before witnessed this abuse of the process.

Senator Tuberville’s blockade is putting our national security at risk and the longer it goes on, the more dangerous it will get. I’m grateful we were able to overwhelmingly confirm the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the Marine Corps and Army commandants, with broad bipartisan support, but that’s only three out of more than 300 equally-qualified promotions.

It is no exaggeration to say that our nation’s military readiness is being eroded and increasingly threatened by Senator Tuberville’s actions, and so is the well-being of our country’s military families. Until Senator Tuberville ends his dangerous blockade, hundreds of military families will be in limbo, unable to move or enroll their children in school. Our service members and their families already make many sacrifices for our country; we should not force them to make this one. The only people who are gaining from Senator Tuberville’s antics are our adversaries. His ploy is undermining our readiness – and playing right into their hands. It is way past time for Republican senators to publicly rebuke Senator Tuberville for his blockade and call upon him to cease and desist.

Maryland Strong

As division and chaos among House Republicans threatens to damage the country, federal Team Maryland has been united in securing funding for vital initiatives in every corner of our state. Last month, I joined the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County in Hagerstown for the groundbreaking of their new clubhouse and teen center. With the help of federal funding, this new facility will allow the Boys & Girls Club to double its average daily attendance, to serve as many as 500 young people each day, and the teen center will allow for the implementation of a new workforce development program.

I also stopped by Frederick County’s Northgate Fire Station #29 to deliver $9.7 million in federal funding to help the County hire new firefighters to increase firefighter and community safety. This investment builds on the $35.7 million in SAFER funding we’ve delivered to Frederick County Fire & Rescue Services since 2016 – translating to more than 149 new firefighters. While there, I discussed my bipartisan FIRE STATION Act which would help us build and upgrade fire stations in Maryland and across the country, because no American fire station should be allowed to endanger the very same people who risk it all for us. The FIRE STATION Act will be a critical new federal funding stream to support public safety in our communities, but we also need to ensure the existing funding sources that local agencies have counted on for years – like the SAFER and the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) programs – don’t expire. That’s why, earlier this year, I worked to pass bipartisan legislation in the Senate to continue funding for these vital programs through 2030. Now, our House colleagues need to pass this bill so our firefighters can continue to count on federal support to stay fully equipped, staffed, and trained in the years to come.

Keeping our economy strong is also front of mind for me. I recently joined President Biden and my Team Maryland partners at Prince George’s Community College in Largo to address the economic challenges we face in America today, and to discuss the work we are doing together to help American families. We will not return to MAGAnomics and another era of failed trickle-down policies. We’re building the economy the right way – from the bottom up and the middle out – creating over 14 million jobs in the process as real wages rise and inflation falls.

Those are just a few examples of all we’ve been doing to deliver for Marylanders and to move our country forward.

Floor Speech on Anniversary of January 6th Insurrection
RepresentativeJanuary 6, 2022 (13:30)

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) speaks on the floor of the U.S. Senate regarding the anniversary of the January 6th insurrection, the continued threat to our democracy posed by Donald Trump’s Big Lie, and the urgent need to pass voting rights legislation to protect every American’s right to the ballot box.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) on Sunday called on President Biden to speak out more clearly about civilian casualties in Gaza, when asked whether Biden’s pro-Israel positioning hurts his standing with Democrats.

“I don’t know if it’s hurting the president with fellow Democrats. I do think it’s important that the president speak out more clearly on this issue,” Van Hollen said in an interview on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.”

“Let me say this, in the aftermath of the horrific Hamas attacks of October 7, you have, I think, virtually every senator supporting Israel’s objective of going after Hamas and neutralizing them from a military perspective. No more October 7th’s,” he said. “But we also need to do — as [Secretary of State Antony Blinken] said, how Israel conducts this operation is important.”

A Conversation with Senator Chris Van Hollen
Center for Strategic & International Studies, May 28, 2020 – 9:00 am (ET)

Please join CSIS’s Global Health Policy Center on Thursday, May 28 at 9:00 AM for a timely conversation with Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) about both the public health and economic dimensions to addressing the coronavirus pandemic. We have entered an uncertain, high-risk moment of transition in America. A gradual reopening across the nation, it is hoped, can be accomplished in an orderly and safe way without inviting the reignition of major outbreaks. At the same time, we are weighing what additional economic measures – at what level, and when – will be most effective in preserving the vitality and integrity of the American economy. How to achieve success in each of these two areas, and what are the true risks, are subjects of intense, often divisive political debates. Please join this conversation to hear Senator Van Hollen’s thoughts on the way forward. J. Stephen Morrison, Senior Vice President and Director of the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, will host and moderate.


Source: Government Site

Chris Van Hollen 1

Elected to the United States Senate by the people of Maryland in November 2016, Chris Van Hollen is committed to fighting every day to ensure that our state and our country live up to their full promise of equal rights, equal justice, and equal opportunity.

Senator Van Hollen believes that every child deserves the opportunity to pursue their dreams and benefit from a quality education, and that anyone willing to work hard should be able to find a good job.  That’s why his top priorities include creating more and better jobs, strengthening small businesses, and increasing educational and job training opportunities for individuals of all ages and in every community.

Senator Van Hollen started his time in public service as a member of the Maryland State Legislature, where he became known as a tenacious advocate for everyday Marylanders and someone who was unafraid to take on powerful special interests on behalf of working people. In 2002, he was elected to represent Maryland’s 8th Congressional District. In the House of Representatives, he served as a member of the Democratic leadership and was elected by his colleagues to be the Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee and protect vital interests like Social Security and Medicare.

A tireless fighter for the people of Maryland, Senator Van Hollen has also become known for working hard to find common sense solutions to difficult national issues.  In January 2015, he released a comprehensive plan to address the problem of growing inequality in America and provide a blueprint for building an economy that works for everyone, a goal that he will continue to fight for in the U.S. Senate.

Senator Van Hollen is proud to have worked successfully with members of both parties to pass bipartisan legislation whenever possible on issues of common concern, including expanding medical research, protecting the Chesapeake Bay, fighting childhood cancer, and passing the ABLE Act to assist families with children with disabilities.

Chris Van Hollen is a graduate of Swarthmore College, the John F. Kennedy School of Public Policy at Harvard University, and Georgetown University Law Center where he attended night school.  He and his wife, Katherine Wilkens, are the proud parents of three children, Anna, Nicholas, and Alexander.


Full Name: Christopher ‘Chris’ Van Hollen, Jr.

Gender: Male

Family: Wife: Katherine; 3 Children: Anna, Nicholas, Alexander

Birth Date: 01/10/1959

Birth Place: Karachi, Pakistan

Home City: Kensington, MD

Religion:  Episcopalian


JD, Georgetown University Law Center, 1990

MPP, Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 1985

BA, Philosophy, Swarthmore College, 1982


Senate Career:

  • Affordable Care Act (ACA) Extension: Led efforts to pass the Affordable Care Act extension, ensuring continued coverage for millions of Americans.
  • Economic Stimulus: Co-sponsored the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, providing economic relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: Key negotiator and advocate for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, investing in roads, bridges, broadband, and clean energy.
  • LGBTQ+ Equality: Co-sponsored legislation to expand LGBTQ+ rights, including the Equality Act and Respect for Marriage Act.
  • Gun Violence Prevention: Introduced the Universal Background Checks Act of 2019 and the Ghost Gun and Straw Purchaser Enforcement Act.

House of Representatives Career:

  • Wall Street Reform: Co-authored the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, strengthening financial regulation.
  • Economic Recovery: Sponsored the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, stimulating the economy during the Great Recession.
  • Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage: Led efforts to pass the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, providing prescription drug coverage to seniors.
  • Education: Co-sponsored the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which provided funding for education programs.
  • Veterans Affairs: Served on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, advocating for veterans’ benefits and reforms.

Other Notable Accomplishments:

  • Maryland State Senator: Served from 2003 to 2006, focusing on education, economic development, and environmental protection.
  • Montgomery County Councilmember: Served from 1991 to 2002, leading initiatives in education, transportation, and the environment.
  • National Association of Counties (NACo) President: Led NACo from 2011 to 2012, advocating for county governments.

Awards and Recognition:

  • National Organization on Disability (NOD) Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Maryland League of Conservation Voters Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Montgomery County Human Rights Commission Martin Luther King, Jr. Award

Source: Google Search + Gemini + onAir curation


Washington, DC
730 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-4654
Fax: (202) 228-0629

Baltimore Regional Office
1900 N. Howard Street
Suite 100
Baltimore, MD 21218
Phone: (667) 212-4610
Please call for an appointment

Montgomery County Office
111 Rockville Pike
Suite 960
Rockville, MD 20850
Phone: (301) 545-1500
Fax: (301) 545-1512

Western Maryland Office
32 W. Washington Street
Suite 203
Hagerstown, MD 21740
Phone: (301) 797-2826
Please call for an appointment

Anne Arundel and Southern Maryland Office
60 West Street
Suite 107
Annapolis, MD 21401
Phone: (410) 263-1325
Please call for an appointment

Prince George’s County Office
1101 Mercantile Lane
Suite 210
Largo, MD 20774
Phone: (301) 322-6560
Please call for an appointment

Eastern Shore Office
204 Cedar Street
Suite 200C
Cambridge, MD 21613
Phone: (410) 221-2074
Please call for an appointment


Email: Government site

Web Links


Senator Chris Van Hollen On President Donald Trump Oval Office Speech

January 9, 2019 (04:25)
By: MSNBC – Morning Joe

Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen says President Trump’s address on immigration was a “degradation of the Oval Office” for a “tawdry political speech.” He tells Lawrence O’Donnell he expects more Senate Republicans to break with Trump.


Source: Google Search + Gemini + onAir curation

See Issues section for more detailed positions

Domestic Policy

  • Healthcare: Supports the Affordable Care Act and efforts to expand healthcare coverage. Opposes efforts to repeal the ACA or cut Medicaid.
  • Education: Advocates for increased funding for public education and early childhood education. Supports college affordability initiatives, such as the Pell Grant program.
  • Gun control: Supports stricter gun control measures, including universal background checks and an assault weapons ban.
  • Climate change: Believes that climate change is a serious threat and supports measures to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Immigration: Supports comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
  • Economic policy: Advocates for policies that promote economic growth and opportunity, such as tax cuts for working families and investments in infrastructure.
  • Social justice: Supports equal rights for all Americans, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.
  • Criminal justice reform: Supports reforms to the criminal justice system, including reducing mass incarceration and providing alternatives to incarceration.

Foreign Policy

  • Diplomacy: Believes that diplomacy is the best way to resolve international conflicts.
  • International cooperation: Supports international organizations, such as the United Nations and NATO.
  • Human rights: Supports promoting human rights around the world.
  • Defense: Supports a strong national defense, but also believes that the United States should work with allies and partners to address global threats.
  • Trade: Supports free and fair trade, but also believes that the United States should protect its workers and businesses from unfair competition.
  • Terrorism: Believes that terrorism is a serious threat and supports measures to combat it, including intelligence gathering and law enforcement cooperation.
  • Nuclear proliferation: Opposes the spread of nuclear weapons and supports efforts to negotiate nuclear disarmament agreements.

Election Results

To learn more, go to this wikipedia section in this post.

Source: Wikipedia


Source: Open Secrets


  • Chairman, Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government
  • Member, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies
  • Member, Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
  • Member, Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, Urban Development, and Related Agencies
  • Member, Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies
  • Member, Subcommittee on Legislative Branch
  • Appropriations
  • Member, Subcommittee on Economic Policy
  • Member, Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection
  • Member, Subcommittee on National Security and International Trade and Finance
  • Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs
  • Chairman, Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy
  • Member, Subcommittee on Africa And Global Health Policy
  • Member, Subcommittee on Europe And Regional Security Cooperation
  • Foreign Relations Committee

New Legislation

Source: Congress.Gov


Source: Campaign page

Delivering for Marylanders

Whether it’s large investments in transportation, resources to protect the Chesapeake Bay, support for schools, students, seniors, affordable housing, COVID relief, or economic development initiatives, Chris has worked tirelessly as our Senator to deliver for Marylanders in every corner of our state.

As a member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, the same Committee where Senator Barbara Mikulski once served, Chris has been uniquely positioned to help address key needs of our state and deliver real results for Marylanders.  There is not a single County or municipality that hasn’t benefited from his non-stop efforts to lookout for the people of Maryland and secure resources to address unmet priorities.

Provisions in the recently passed Infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better Act will provide historic investments in the future of our physical and human infrastructure — and have a massive positive impact on the lives of Marylanders.

Modernizing Our Infrastructure and Building Back Better.

Chris shares President Biden’s view that simply returning to the pre-pandemic status-quo in our country is not good enough. We must use this moment to address chronic challenges that have gone unaddressed for far too long — and build our country and our economy back better than they were before January 2020.  Building back better means modernizing our infrastructure, building an economy with more shared prosperity, reducing the everyday costs overwhelming the weekly budgets of hardworking families, addressing issues of racial equity and social justice, and confronting the mounting harms wrought by climate change. We have much work ahead of us to build an economy where every American has a fair shot. But the good news is that we are making important progress already and Chris is working to deliver for Marylanders.

The Infrastructure Modernization Law

Chris was proud to join President Biden at the White House on November 15th for the signing of the bipartisan Infrastructure modernization bill, which contains many provisions that he championed for our state. Those include over $7 billion over the next five years to modernize Maryland’s roads, bridges, tunnels, and transit systems — and  funds that will help modernize AMTRAK and make changes that will cut the rail travel time between Washington D.C. and Baltimore to thirty minutes. The infrastructure bill also provides funds for a national program, that Chris spearheaded, to remove past infrastructure that divided communities, like the infamous Highway to Nowhere in West Baltimore, which decimated and split a once vibrant African American community, leaving an empty wasteland in its place. Chris also led the way on the renewed federal commitment of $150 million a year for the Washington area Metro system and, importantly, the provision that revives the possibility of building a new Red Line metro system in Baltimore — a project that Governor Hogan unilaterally terminated years ago despite a commitment of almost $1 billion in federal funds.

The Infrastructure Bill also includes a large infusion of funds ($267 million on top of the annual appropriations) to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay. Chris also worked to include a large pool of funds that can be used by the Port of Baltimore to dramatically increase its cargo capacity, making room for substantial job growth in the Baltimore area.  Finally, for years, Chris has fought to secure the funds, included in this bill, to end the digital divide and expand broadband to every household and business. He also fought successfully for the measures to ensure clean drinking water and start building a national network of electric car charging stations and other infrastructure to accelerate our country’s transition away from fossil-fuels and to a clean energy economy.

The Build Back Better Plan 

The infrastructure modernization plan will revitalize America’s physical backbone and help bring it into the 21st Century. But, in order for us to achieve our goal of greater prosperity for all, we must also empower every American to succeed in this century, end the constant financial squeeze faced by too many American workers, families and seniors, and address the mounting harm caused by climate change to communities across our country. The Build Back Better agenda will directly address these challenges and, as a member of the Senate Budget Committee, Chris is proud to have been at the forefront of the effort to design and pass this important bill. It will include a number of measures Chris has championed for years — including universal early education so every child can get a good start; affordable child care (no family will have to pay more than 7% of their income on quality child care); and, over time, significant cuts in the cost of prescription drugs. Chris has also been a leading sponsor of another key element of the plan — tax cuts for middle and lower income families of up to $3,600 per child, which will benefit over 700,000 Maryland households and cut in half the national child poverty rate.  He has also been a leading proponent of the provisions to dramatically cut the cost of in-home health care for seniors and to expand Medicare to cover hearing services.

Chris has been a lead advocate of the desperately needed measure to expand the supply of affordable housing in our country, and authored the provision to boost the number of choice housing vouchers that empower families with young children to move to areas of opportunity.

The Build Back Better plan will also, finally, include major investments to prevent catastrophic climate change, and mitigate the rising threats we are already experiencing. Chris has been a champion and lead author of many provisions in in this area, including the deployment of a Clean Energy Accelerator (like a Green Bank), the measures to boost home energy efficiency, and the tax incentives to promote the rapid deployment of clean energy. These clean energy provisions of the bill are essential to our ability to achieve our goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.

Economy & Jobs

Government site

Senator Van Hollen fights for policies to lift up workers and help families make ends meet by growing the economy in a way that creates more opportunity and shared prosperity for all, reducing the costs of household necessities like prescription drugs, and ensuring that the super-wealthy and powerful corporations do more to invest in the success of every American.

The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic strained the pocketbooks of working families across our state like never before. That’s why Senator Van Hollen partnered with colleagues to pass a series of relief bills to deliver financial support to those hardest-hit and give America’s comeback a big boost. Those efforts, including provisions from the American Rescue Plan, resulted in landmark initiatives to provide direct payments to over 2.7 million Maryland families, provide monthly tax cuts to 684,000 Maryland families with children, shore up Maryland small businesses, keep theaters and performance venues from shuttering, and lend a helping hand so that restaurants could stay open despite the unprecedented hardship of the pandemic.

The economy added over 6 million jobs during President Biden’s first year in office – the most job growth ever in a single year – thanks in large part to the American Rescue Plan. We are on the road to recovery, and we are building back from this crisis. But it isn’t enough for us to return to the pre-pandemic status quo: Senator Van Hollen believes we must build back stronger, and that includes ensuring our economy works for everyone.

That mission begins with creating more good-paying home-grown jobs. To bring our nation’s infrastructure into the 21stcentury and spur hundreds of thousands of new jobs, Senator Van Hollen helped pass the infrastructure modernization bill, which has now been signed into law. That law will bring more than $7 billion in federal funding to Maryland over five years to improve our transit systems, railways, drinking water, roads, bridges, tunnels, broadband, and more, and it includes additional resources for our nation’s ports, including the Port of Baltimore. All of these investments will put more Marylanders to work in good-paying jobs.

Senator Van Hollen is also leading a push to create more jobs in our communities to help tackle the climate crisis, including through his legislation to create a Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator and his HOPE for HOMES Act. Both bills would not only provide a boost to clean energy technologies, they would also create jobs and ultimately reduce Marylanders’ energy costs. In addition to these efforts, Senator Van Hollen is working to increase the minimum wage, ensure equal pay for equal work, and strengthen the power of workers to form unions and bargain collectively so they get the compensation they deserve from the fruit of their labor.

Senator Van Hollen has also teamed up with colleagues to ensure that the wealthiest and big corporations pay their fair share so that we can invest in an economy that benefits every American and rewards work – not just wealth. After decades of rising inequality, a devastating pandemic, and wasteful tax giveaways to the wealthiest of the wealthy during the Trump Administration, it is long past time for us to reform the tax code in order to sustain a fairer economy with greater opportunity for everyone. That’s why Senator Van Hollen has introduced legislation to reveal when multinational corporations are getting tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas or abusing offshore tax havens, and he has joined his colleagues on legislation to close those loopholes. He has also been fighting to create a Millionaire’s Surtax, which would apply an additional 10-percentage point tax to incomes about $2 million for married couples and above $1 million for individuals – and under that plan, 99.8% of Americans wouldn’t pay an extra dime in taxes. Last but not least, Senator Van Hollen is leading efforts to close the stepped-up basis loophole, which billionaires use to avoid income taxes entirely on the enormous gains that come from their wealth, rather than their work. Closing that loophole would make sure that the largest American dynasties pay their fair share of taxes while protecting small businesses and family farms.

As we boost jobs and wages, we should also reduce the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs, child care, and other essential goods and services. Senator Van Hollen has proposed a suite of legislation to address these rising costs, including giving Medicare the right to negotiate the price of prescription drugs and delivering tax cuts to families. And by calling for new investments in affordable housing, down-payment assistance programs, rental relief, and expanded mobility services that will help families with children use housing vouchers to move to neighborhoods of opportunity, Senator Van Hollen is working to shrink the amount of money that families spend to keep a roof over their heads – while simultaneously creating new opportunities for all Americans to grow wealth.

The United States is regarded around the world as “the land of opportunity.” Senator Van Hollen is partnering with colleagues to live up to that reputation by building an economy that works for everyone and growing more opportunity and more shared prosperity for Marylanders and our fellow citizens from coast to coast.

Agriculture and Seafood

Agriculture is one of Maryland’s critical economic engines, with more than 2 million farm acres in production and over $2.2 billion of agricultural products sold in our state. Our seafood industry is also vital to our economy and central to our culture, and Maryland watermen have harvested the bounty of the Chesapeake Bay for generations. Senator Van Hollen is working to ensure that farmers, producers, and watermen across the state have the resources they need to support production, rural development, and conservation efforts. He is also focused on making sure that rural communities from the Eastern Shore to Western Maryland have the federal resources necessary to support the infrastructure, energy, and telecommunications and broadband projects that will help our agricultural economy continue to grow and prosper.

Senator Van Hollen played a key role in crafting critical elements of the 2018 Farm Bill that have helped provide Maryland’s farmers and producers with the tools they need to succeed. Building on a voluntary conservation program Senator Van Hollen originally authored in 2008, the Farm Bill continues to deliver resources to farmers in Maryland and throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed to improve soil health and the health of the Bay. Maryland farmers have been leaders in this effort, and Senator Van Hollen continues to call for other states in the watershed to meet their commitments – including Pennsylvania.

The Farm Bill also equips Historically Black Land-Grant Universities, like the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, with the financial flexibility they need to fully meet their missions. In addition, the 2018 Farm Bill included a provision Senator Van Hollen authored to help veterans and underserved populations get the training and support they need to build successful farming operations.

That legislation made big strides in strengthening Maryland agriculture, but COVID-19 threw new hurdles in front of our state’s farmers, watermen, producers, ranchers, and others. Senator Van Hollen has focused on addressing their unique needs throughout the duration of the pandemic. The food supply chain, from production to consumption, was ravaged by COVID-19 and the economic fallout resulting from it. Many working families couldn’t get food on the table. Meanwhile, Maryland farmers were struggling to tread water.

Senator Van Hollen pushed to address both sides of this equation head-on by bolstering nutrition assistance programs and fresh food delivery to those in need while simultaneously providing financial support to farmers and food processors through a series of coronavirus relief bills including the American Rescue Plan. Crucially, the American Rescue Plan also included essential resources to help close the digital divide and connect more Marylanders to the internet, including in rural communities. Senator Van Hollen followed up that victory by securing funding within the infrastructure modernization law to connect every family with high-speed, affordable broadband. The internet is to the 21st century what electricity was to the 20th century: absolutely essential. With new resources for affordable broadband, Maryland’s agriculture community will have more tools to lead the modern economy and get a financial leg up to remain competitive.

Senator Van Hollen also believes that to strengthen the health of Maryland agriculture, we need to invest in cutting-edge agriculture research. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he has consistently advocated for essential funding to supercharge innovation in agriculture – and much of that innovation is happening right here in our state thanks to world-renowned research institutions like the University of Maryland, College Park and the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. Senator Van Hollen will continue to support these institutions, and others, in their efforts to revolutionize agricultural research and science.

Agriculture is a cornerstone of Maryland’s economy, culture, and history, and Senator Van Hollen is committed to delivering for the Marylanders who are pushing our agriculture forward.

Consumer Protection

The 2008 financial crisis underscored the importance of a transparent financial market and stringent consumer protection laws that are properly enforced. In the midst of the Great Recession, Senator Van Hollen fought tooth and nail to protect Marylanders from the predatory practices of certain big banks, was part of the team that passed the Wall Street reform law, and has continued to be a champion for consumer rights to this day.

That mission has taken on added urgency throughout the coronavirus pandemic, which exposed our fellow citizens to economic hardship and new financial traps. That’s why Senator Van Hollen stepped up to ensure that provisions designed to defend against COVID-19-related frauds were included in the December 2020 coronavirus relief bill. He also successfully urged the Administration to take important actions to protect Americans’ financial security, including through a pause on student loan payments and a federal eviction moratorium. Those efforts have gone hand-in-hand with Senator Van Hollen’s push to pass broad student debt forgiveness, like enacting fixes to the public service loan forgiveness program, and securing vital pandemic rental and mortgage assistance in the American Rescue Plan. Additionally, Senator Van Hollen supported key resources in Congress’ COVID-19 relief measures for the Consumer Product Safety Fund to protect consumers from potentially dangerous products related to the pandemic and from scammers trying to take advantage of Marylanders during this crisis.

As a member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Senator Van Hollen has helped hold special interests and the financial industry accountable by working to strengthen the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. For years, he has led the charge to shut down major corporate loopholes used by executives to evade stock trading regulations at the expense of everyday investors, and the Securities and Exchange Commission is now proposing to close those loopholes. Senator Van Hollen is also continuing the call for the passage of a financial transaction tax to rein in out-of-control Wall Street gambling.

Marylanders should also be insulated from the shams and swindles of predatory lenders that jack up interest rates beyond reasonable levels and trap working families in endless cycles of debt. When the Trump Administration recklessly opened loopholes that enabled predatory lenders to charge loan-shark rates under deceptive terms, Senator Van Hollen successfully shepherded legislation through Congress that reversed that damage. He is following that victory by standing up to abusive payday lenders and fighting to establish a 36% interest rate cap, nationwide – which is modeled after the current usury cap that already exists in Maryland.

In addition, Senator Van Hollen is laser-focused on tackling daily scams and pressures that affect everyday Marylanders. To help Marylanders facing consumer issues, answer constituent questions, and provide more information on ongoing scams, Senator Van Hollen has co-hosted multiple Consumer Protection forums around the state with Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. He is now working in our nation’s capital to channel the wisdom of those forum conversations into legislative change. He has helped pass a bill to crack down on illegal robocalls, he is working to prevent medical providers from going after patients’ income in order to recoup debt, and he has introduced new legislation that would protect consumers from online free trial scams. In addition, Senator Van Hollen has partnered with a group of bipartisan colleagues to introduce a bill that will help better protect seniors from fraud. According to a report from the Senate Special Committee on Aging released last Congress, older Americans lose approximately $3 billion each year to financial scams and abuse. Senator Van Hollen’s legislation, the Empowering States to Protect Seniors from Bad Actors Act, will help protect our seniors by combatting fraudulent scams aimed at older Americans

Senator Van Hollen will keep fighting to protect Maryland consumers and ensure they have the tools to recognize and combat fraud and scams.

Small Businesses

Small businesses form the heart of Maryland’s economy – creating jobs and driving innovation. That’s why Senator Van Hollen is fighting to make sure that small businesses can access the resources and tools they need to grow – including for Maryland’s minority-owned and women-owned businesses and those committed to serving our communities and generating more economic opportunity.

The coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic fallout hit our small businesses especially hard. To help them weather the storm, Senator Van Hollen prioritized his office’s efforts to help businesses keep their doors open during these unprecedented times and fought to incorporate real, substantive relief for Maryland small businesses within each of Congress’ coronavirus relief bills, including the American Rescue Plan. The legislative packages passed by Congress contained additional funding for Emergency Disaster Assistance loans and Minority Business Development Agency loans that are run and distributed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and that provided essential relief to many businesses. The bipartisan CARES Act also created the landmark Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to deliver low-interest and forgivable loans to struggling small businesses, and Senator Van Hollen played a key role in refining the program to ensure funds could reach businesses that needed them the most on a targeted and flexible basis.

In addition, Senator Van Hollen has worked shoulder-to-shoulder with colleagues to ensure that coronavirus relief programs meet the financial needs of struggling or shuttered event venues, nonprofit organizations, 501(c)(6) organizations like local chambers of commerce, Community Development Financial Institutions, Minority Depository Institutions, and others. The Senator also worked to create the Restaurant Revitalization Fund within the American Rescue Plan to provide critical relief to restaurants, bars, and other small businesses in the food and beverage services sector. This program has already rushed real relief to just over 2,000 Maryland restaurants, but many restaurant owners still need relief. That’s why Senator Van Hollen has called for a replenishment of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund program, and he is working with colleagues and community partners to assemble a new bipartisan relief bill focused on hard-hit small businesses, including restaurants. All of these efforts recognize that small businesses are the engines of jobs and economic growth in our communities.

As Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, Senator Van Hollen will continue to put the needs of Maryland’s small businesses front-and-center in the federal budget process. He has worked to build on the foundation Congress established through coronavirus relief legislation by advocating for additional resources to ensure that businesses continue to recover from the pandemic and from natural disasters in the proposed FY2022 federal appropriations bill.

Through his positions on both the Appropriations Committee and on the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Senator Van Hollen is working to support Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions – which are key vehicles for funding businesses and projects in economically underserved communities. Senator Van Hollen is proud to fight on behalf of these important community-based financial institutions that support a wide range of local projects, including everything from bringing grocery stores to communities with no healthy food alternatives to investing in low-income housing.

Senator Van Hollen is also working on both of these committees to support entrepreneurs and deliver resources to women-, minority-, and veteran-owned businesses. As a part of this effort, the Senator has fought to create more contracting opportunities with the federal government for these businesses – and worked to secure provisions in the infrastructure modernization bill to help generate new opportunities for partnerships and contracts between the public and private sectors. In addition, he is pushing to expand vital SBA programs like the Minority Small Business Development Agency and has consistently backed funding to support the Economic Development Administration and the Appalachian Regional Commission to spur growth and job creation where it is needed most.

From our big cities to our small towns, small businesses are key to Maryland’s economic success, and Senator Van Hollen has partnered with them to meet their needs.


Education, Workforce Training, and Apprenticeships

There is nothing more essential for our future success – as individuals, as families, as a state, and as a nation – than investing in quality education for every child, no matter their zip code. Senator Van Hollen believes that we must do everything we can to keep the doors to opportunity open for all of our children, and that charge is more urgent now than ever before. The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated foundational gaps ingrained in our education system at all levels – from sky-high child care and early education costs to chronic underfunding of K-12 schools to a widening digital divide and more. Those gaps must be tackled head-on.

Senator Van Hollen successfully fought to include essential resources within the American Rescue Plan to combat the digital divide and open our schools back up as quickly and as safely as possible. But it isn’t enough for us to return to the pre-pandemic status quo: we must redouble our efforts to build a better and stronger education system – one in which the doors to opportunity are opened wide for all.

That effort starts by ensuring our children benefit from a stable and sturdy educational foundation. Senator Van Hollen is proud to support early childhood education programs, Head Start, universal pre-K, and resources to help families afford child care. He is also fighting in Congress to fully fund Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in order to support low-income students and students with disabilities. By fully funding both programs, federal support to Maryland for Title I and IDEA would double, closing the more than $700 million yearly funding gap for our state’s schools. He has also introduced legislation to strengthen community schools that provide a well-rounded curriculum and wrap-around services from health care to nutrition for children and families.

Senator Van Hollen also believes that every high school graduate should have a range of affordable options to pursue their ambitions and careers. He supports debt-free college, affordable student loans, an expansion of the Pell Grant, and more flexible educational opportunities like community college. Senator Van Hollen knows that a college degree isn’t the only pathway to success, and he remains committed to increasing our nation’s focus on industry certifications, apprenticeships, and lifelong retraining in order to create more opportunities for good-paying jobs for Marylanders. The Senator has also worked to provide Americans who are struggling to find jobs with robust support and training – so they can get back on their feet and into the workforce.

Taken together, these priorities – from expanding early childhood education to building out job training programs – establish a roadmap that has guided Senator Van Hollen since he first entered public service. Recently, the Senator has pushed this fight forward through additional efforts to pass expanded resources for universal early childhood education, free preschool, and Head Start. That initiative has accompanied Senator Van Hollen’s work to secure funding that will cut the cost of child care for working families and boost pay for child care workers. He is also partnering with colleagues to provide major investments to Maryland’s four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and peer institutions across the country – including funding to sharpen research capacity so faculty, staff, and students at our HBCUs have the tools they need to lead innovation and discovery. That pursuit is one piece of Senator Van Hollen’s broader commitment to strengthening education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and broadening participation in these fields.

What’s more, the infrastructure modernization law that Senator Van Hollen helped pass through Congress will generate millions of good-paying jobs and open up new pathways to employment for Marylanders of all backgrounds who have taken on an apprenticeship, received certification to work in a particular industry or trade, or graduated with a higher degree. And by building out our nation’s high-speed internet system, the infrastructure modernization law will help close the digital divide so more students can get online to access and complete their coursework – and do so in an affordable way.

Through these efforts and others, Senator Van Hollen continues to tackle the challenges facing our schools and our students, and he will continue fighting to achieve the goal of equal opportunity for every Marylander and every American.

Energy & Environment

Climate Change and the Environment

The daily impacts of the climate crisis – from flooding to natural disasters to growing health challenges – increasingly threaten Maryland communities. But Senator Van Hollen believes that addressing the climate emergency is not just an urgent challenge, but also as an opportunity to build a stronger economy, advance issues of climate justice and equity, and generate millions of new home-grown, good-paying jobs with groundbreaking technologies.

Senator Van Hollen worked to secure resources within the infrastructure modernization law to achieve all of these goals – and others too. That legislation will build out Maryland’s network of electric vehicle charging stations to make it easier than ever to own and drive an electric car in the United States. That law will also harden our infrastructure to withstand the risks of climate change. In addition, it will bring in $238 million in funding for the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program to clean up the Bay and meet the targets of the Bay Agreement.

But our work doesn’t end there. Senator Van Hollen believes the fight against climate change must be front-and-center in our nation’s capital, in Maryland, and across the country. That’s why Senator Van Hollen has authored legislation to make homes more energy efficient, which will both fight the climate crisis and lower everyday costs for Marylanders. He is also leading the charge to create and fund a clean energy and sustainability accelerator that will supercharge public and private investments in clean energy – an idea pioneered by Van Hollen when he was in the House of Representatives. Additionally, Senator Van Hollen has put forward a groundbreaking proposal, the Polluter’s Pay Climate Fund, to require that the country’s biggest polluters start paying into a fund to support a just transition to a clean energy future. That legislative effort is guided by a simple but powerful idea: those who pollute should pay to help clean up the mess they caused – and those who polluted the most should pay the most. He also supports efforts to create new tax incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles and to create a civilian climate corps that will mobilize a new generation of Americans committed to bolstering community resilience and advancing environmental justice.

Preserving the natural beauty of our state and protecting Maryland’s air, land, and water for our children and future generations are also top priorities. Senator Van Hollen is a leader in the effort to clean up Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, and he has used his position on the Senate Appropriations Committee to secure historic increases in funding to the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program. In 2020, the President signed Senator Van Hollen’s bipartisan Chesapeake WILD Act into law, which created a new grant program to strengthen our restoration and habitat conservation efforts and to support collaboration between the Fish and Wildlife Service and key on-the-ground partners committed to preserving the Bay. This new program will bring in $15 million to improve the health of the Bay.

Senator Van Hollen is also working with partners in government and at the grassroots level to explore the designation of a Chesapeake National Recreation Area managed by the National Park Service. Marylanders know the Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure. Designating a Chesapeake National Recreation Area will highlight that reality and attract national recognition to the Bay’s natural, cultural, historical, and recreational significance while simultaneously bringing in new resources to protect the Bay and support local Maryland businesses.

Our planet is precious and our state’s natural treasures must be protected and nurtured. That’s why Senator Van Hollen is fighting every day to tackle the climate crisis, reinforce our communities against extreme weather, and clean up the Chesapeake Bay with solutions that promote economic opportunity and create jobs.

Chesapeake National Recreation Area

Senator Chris Van Hollen and Congressman John Sarbanes are pleased to introduce legislation that will designate a unified Chesapeake National Recreation Area (CNRA) as part of the National Park System. The legislation was developed through collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders represented on the working group that Senator Van Hollen and Congressman Sarbanes convened last year, and informed by feedback during a 6-month public comment period. The CNRA will utilize a collection of partnerships with states, localities, and private entities with the intent of highlighting the landscape and national significance of the Chesapeake Bay. This will deliver more federal resources to the watershed region, celebrate its diverse cultural and economic history, conserve the Bay’s environment, and foster public access to this national treasure while also spurring economic growth.

The CNRA will increase diverse public access to the Chesapeake Bay and strengthen the culture of stewardship across the region. Additionally, the CNRA will highlight the stories that often go untold – those of Indigenous peoples; free and enslaved Blacks; the role the Bay played in the earliest days of the Maryland and Virginia Colonies; the key part the Bay has played, and continues to play, in the region’s economy; and the story of watermen and -women who are essential to the economic success and health of the Bay region. Everyone who resides in the watershed has an important role in Bay conservation and culture.

Through this legislation:

  • The National Park Service (NPS) will be permitted to acquire or partner with Burtis House, Whitehall, Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse, and the North Beach of Fort Monroe by voluntary sale or donation to serve as the first sites within the CNRA;
  • A CNRA Advisory Commission of local stakeholders will be tasked with advising the NPS on the design and implementation of the CNRA management plan and make recommendations for additional partner sites and property to be added to the CNRA;
  • NPS may only acquire additional lands or property through voluntary donation, purchase from a willing seller, exchange, or transfer from another agency in consultation with the CNRA Advisory Commission;
  • NPS can enter into voluntary “opt-in” partner site and cooperative management agreements with and provide federal funding to state and local governments, tribal governments, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and private landowners that wish to be included in the CNRA, in consultation with the CNRA Advisory Commission;
  • NPS is directed to collect community feedback and conduct transportation planning on the initial CNRA sites, in accordance with the NPS planning process, prioritizing water and trail access;
  • The Superintendent of the NPS Chesapeake Bay Office will administer the existing Chesapeake Gateways Program in coordination with the CNRA; and
  • The Chesapeake Gateways Program is permanently reauthorized at $6 million annually.

This draft legislation explicitly would not:

  • Authorize NPS to impose any additional regulations on recreational or commercial business activities in the Chesapeake Bay waters, including existing water navigation and fishing activities;
  • Authorize NPS to supersede state authority in fish and wildlife management efforts;
  • Authorize NPS to acquire property from unwilling landowners; nor
  • Authorize NPS to impose any additional regulations governing non-participating private or public landowners.

A Brief History of the CNRA:

The concept of the Chesapeake National Recreation Area has been discussed as far back as the 1980s, spurred by an op-ed in the Capital Gazette and work by Anne Arundel County Executive Jim Lighthizer and later followed in the 1990s by the efforts of Senator Paul Sarbanes. Driven by Senator Sarbanes, in 2004 the National Park Service (NPS) released a special resource study which found that the Chesapeake Bay is “unquestionably nationally significant and a major part of the nation’s heritage.” Shortly after Senator Van Hollen’s election to the Senate, the Senator and Congressman Sarbanes began discussing the possibility of a designated Chesapeake National Recreation Area. In 2019, the lawmakers began working on the effort, requesting drafting service from NPS to pursue a national recreation area designation for the Chesapeake Bay. The effort has garnered widespread bipartisan support, and in 2020, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam shared their backing of the concept in letters to Congress. Senator Van Hollen and Congressman Sarbanes continued to pursue the effort, and in 2021, formally announced a working group to foster further discussion with stakeholders and community members on the project. In June 2022, the lawmakers released a set of guiding principles to serve as a foundation for the discussion draft of the legislation that was released in November 2022. Following more than a half year of public feedback, the legislators compiled a FAQ and introduced the revised Chesapeake National Recreation Area Act in the House and Senate in July 2023. The bill, which is the next significant milestone in this historic process, has been endorsed by more than 100 groups.

Members of the CNRA Working Group: Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Representatives Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Rob Wittman (R-Va.), the State of Maryland; the Commonwealth of Virginia; Chesapeake Conservancy; the Chesapeake Bay Commission; the National Parks Conservation Association; Choose Clean Water Coalition; the Conservation Fund; the Chesapeake Bay Foundation; Maryland League of Conservation Voters; the Nature Conservancy; Potomac Conservancy; REI; the National Trust for Historic Preservation; the American Sportfishing Association; the National Marine Manufacturing Association; the Watermen of Maryland; the Sport Fishing Commission; Historic Annapolis; Oyster Recovery Partnership; Blue Oyster Environmental LLC; Preservation Virginia; Shellfish Growers of Virginia; the James River Association; Virginia Interfaith Power & Light; Marine Trades Association of Maryland; the Audubon Naturalist Society; Living Classrooms; the Hispanic Access Foundation; Latino Outdoors; Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project (SERCAP); Chispa Maryland; Baltimore Tree Trust; Blacks of the Chesapeake Foundation, Clean Chesapeake Coalition, Verna Harrison Associates, Maryland Department of Natural Resources Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission; the National Aquarium; Morgan State University Patuxent Environmental & Aquatic Research Laboratory; the Wilderness Society; the Brandywine Foundation; the United States Lighthouse Society; and the Fort Monroe Authority.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click here for a series of FAQs answering where this idea came from, what the goal is, and more!

Additional Documents

Chesapeake National Recreation Area Act Text

Chesapeake National Recreation Area Act Map

Chesapeake National Recreation Area Letters of Support

Chesapeake National Recreation Area Principles

Chesapeake National Recreation Sites Background

Chesapeake National Recreation Area Endorsing Orgs

Chesapeake National Recreation Area One-Page Summary of Changes

Transportation and Infrastructure

Marylanders rely on our roads, transit, bridges, and more every day. For many, it begins with a drive to school in the morning or ends with a commute home from work at night. But infrastructure is also about the water our children drink, the internet our businesses rely on, and the services that keep our communities running. For these reasons, Senator Van Hollen has been a tireless and consistent advocate for strengthening Maryland’s infrastructure. He has worked every year as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee to include funding for Maryland priorities in the federal budget that serve all of our communities while creating jobs and helping lower costs at home. And when the pandemic hit, Senator Van Hollen rallied support for vital resources to keep Maryland moving and to address immediate infrastructure needs like building out our nation’s broadband and providing devices and internet access to students who needed them.

But for years, Senator Van Hollen has also been pushing for a big, bold new investment to modernize our state’s infrastructure for the 21st century. That push – which included partnership and collaboration with lawmakers and community members – helped result in the passage and enactment of a historic infrastructure modernization law.

The infrastructure modernization law will improve our transit systems, railways, drinking water, roads, bridges, and tunnels. Importantly, it also makes critical investments in building the backbone of a more competitive, modern U.S. economy – including funds to expand broadband to end the digital divide and start building out our clean energy grid and electric charging stations. And this historic law will help harden our state’s infrastructure against the growing impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events that can lead to devastating flooding in our coastal communities on the Eastern Shore and along the Chesapeake Bay. Senator Van Hollen was proud to fight for this legislation and to help negotiate its provisions with colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

In addition, Senator Van Hollen worked to secure specific elements within this legislation to support Maryland directly. The bill includes provisions he authored to reconnect communities that had been split apart by 1960s federal transportation projects like the Highway to Nowhere in West Baltimore; $238 million in funding for the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program to improve the health of the Bay; a vital reauthorization of the $150 million annual federal contribution for WMATA for another eight years; policies Senator Van Hollen wrote to better protect our frontline transit workers; and his bipartisan amendment to ensure taxpayer-funded infrastructure projects are soundly financed. Crucially, this legislation includes language to keep federal funding for the Baltimore Red Line metro project alive. The infrastructure modernization law also invests $17 billion in our ports nationwide – and that includes the Port of Baltimore, a huge economic driver in our state that delivers goods to our region and, along with them, more growth and opportunity for Marylanders.

 In short: this new law will generate more good-paying jobs and strengthen our economy while improving the physical backbone of our country – and it will bring over $7 billion in direct investments straight to Maryland. This achievement marks the most recent chapter in Senator Van Hollen’s long-running mission to improve our infrastructure – and he’s determined to keep on pushing that mission forward.


Health Care

Senator Van Hollen is working every day to ensure that families across Maryland have access to quality, affordable health care. While serving in the House of Representatives, he played a key role in the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which helped millions of people in Maryland and across the country get access to care, brought key protections to Americans with pre-existing conditions, and ended the worst practices of insurance companies. Since that historic legislative victory, Senator Van Hollen has worked to fend off efforts to dismantle the ACA, craft legislation to make it even easier to enroll in current health care programs, and build on the strong health care foundation he helped create. Senator Van Hollen is committed to lowering the cost of prescription drugs and improving the quality, affordability, and accessibility of care across the board. He has been a consistent supporter of creating a Medicare for All public option within the ACA exchanges as a way of moving toward a Medicare for All system.

The coronavirus pandemic struck our state and our nation with the worst public health crisis in a generation. It has affected virtually every Marylander and every American. During this time of crisis, Marylanders have stepped up to serve our fellow citizens, working on the front lines to deliver crucial support to communities in need. Senator Van Hollen is grateful for their courage and thankful for their service.

Throughout this crisis, the Senator has partnered with colleagues to support our frontline workers through increased access to personal protective equipment, additional resources for health care providers, and additional funding for home- and community-based services. He played key roles in assembling a series of coronavirus relief bills – including the American Rescue Plan – that expanded testing, delivered life-saving vaccines to our communities, and supercharged additional research into fighting the coronavirus and its variants. Throughout this pandemic, Senator Van Hollen has placed a clear emphasis on the need to advance health equity and has pushed to ensure that communities of color, which have been disproportionately harmed by this public health emergency, aren’t left behind in our government’s response to the pandemic.

In addition, the American Rescue Plan made important down-payments on key health care priorities. That legislation reduced health care costs, expanded access to insurance coverage, and helped address disparities in access to care. Crucially, the American Rescue Plan expanded health care tax credits to ensure that no marketplace enrollee spends more than 8.5% of their income on premiums, regardless of income. Now, Senator Van Hollen is working to make those changes permanent while further strengthening the Affordable Care Act, lowering the cost of prescription drugs like insulin, and expanding Medicare services. He is working on multiple fronts to lower the cost of prescription medication and has introduced first-of-its-kind legislation to address skyrocketing drug prices by ensuring that the prices of drugs developed using federally-funded research are set at reasonable levels. In addition, Senator Van Hollen is leading the charge to prevent medical providers from going after patients’ incomes in order to recoup debt.

In addition, Senator Van Hollen has championed efforts to find new treatments and cures for diseases that impact virtually every American family. The United States is a world leader in innovative medical research, and much of that good work takes place in Maryland at institutions like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and at our state’s top colleges and universities. Throughout COVID-19, our scientific community – backed by forces like NIH – has shown the incredible capacity of what it’s able to achieve. Senator Van Hollen believes we must leverage that power to make a quantum leap forward in our fight to defeat cancer and many other diseases once and for all, and he has met with President Biden to discuss advancing these efforts. And with more children lost to cancer than any other disease in our nation, Senator Van Hollen is committed to making improvements to treatments and finding cures for this vulnerable population. He worked with his colleagues to introduce and pass two bipartisan laws that expand research efforts and improve the quality of life for patients. This is an important move in the right direction; however, his fight won’t end until we’re able to save every child – and their families – from the misery of this horrific disease.

Senator Van Hollen also introduced and passed bipartisan legislation that modernizes drug development regulations to help build on the progress being made at institutions like NIH. These efforts, and others, are also vital to ensuring that the U.S. remains competitive in this global economy, which is why Senator Van Hollen helped secure key funding for NIH in the 21st Century Cures Act and support for early career researchers and research projects delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic in bipartisan legislation to spur technological innovation, sharpen America’s competitive edge, and boost American manufacturing, which passed the Senate in June 2021.

Senator Van Hollen is fighting to make health care more affordable and accessible for all, and he is committed to ensuring that our health care experts have the tools they need to solve new and emerging medical challenges and cure diseases that affect every American.

Global Affairs

National Security and Foreign Policy

America is strongest when it leads. Our engagement abroad and partnership with our allies grows prosperity at home, enhances our ability to address the most pressing challenges of our time, and helps avoid crises that may otherwise require U.S. service members to go to war. Diplomacy, strategic foreign aid, targeted sanctions, and the use of force only as a last resort must be core elements of U.S. foreign policy. Our goal must be to protect our vital national interests and to promote peace, democracy, freedom, and human rights around the world. Senator Van Hollen has advanced each of these principles through his legislative efforts and his leadership in the Senate as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, where he also serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy.

His work has shaped how the U.S confronts bad actors around the world. Senator Van Hollen’s bipartisan Banking Restrictions Involving North Korea (BRINK) Act, which was signed into law in 2019, requires the Administration to impose sanctions on foreign banks and companies found to facilitate illicit financial transactions for North Korea. He has also led efforts to hold China accountable for its attacks against liberty in Hong Kong. He has led bipartisan efforts to confront the Turkish government’s crackdown on democracy and counter actions they have taken that undermine our national security. In addition, he has drawn a clear line in the sand for foreign actors – including Russia – who seek to disrupt our country’s elections.

Holding bad actors to account around the world must go hand-in-hand with preserving America’s competitiveness at home in an increasingly globalized economy, and Senator Van Hollen has advanced legislative efforts to do just that. He helped pass the United States Innovation and Competition Act through the Senate, which will boost innovation and grow jobs in Maryland and across the country while curtailing the theft of trade secrets and meeting the rising global challenge of China. That legislation included essential provisions from his National SEAL Act, which will help the United States stay at the forefront of innovation and technology. In addition, he has authored legislation to better protect American intellectual property, and he successfully fought to enact bipartisan legislation he co-authored to protect American investors from fraudulent foreign corporations seeking to take advantage of them – especially those backed by the government of China.

The son of a Foreign Service officer, Senator Van Hollen is equally committed to ensuring that those who choose to serve in our diplomatic corps receive top-notch support. He is a co-founder and co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Foreign Service Caucus and wrote and passed the bipartisan Foreign Service Families Act to help expand employment opportunities for Foreign Service spouses and guarantee in-state tuition for members of the Foreign Service and their families. We provide these benefits to military families, and Senator Van Hollen fought to extend this support to Foreign Service families serving our country so we can attract and retain the best and the brightest to represent our country abroad.

Senator Van Hollen has also worked to develop a smarter defense budget that meets our nation’s security needs while simultaneously providing direct support to our troops. He has worked with colleagues to assemble the annual National Defense Authorization Act and ensured the inclusion of provisions to increase pay for military and Department of Defense civilian employees, deliver vital resources to military bases in Maryland, and protect military families. At the same time, he has pushed for stronger accounting to cut waste in the Defense Department budget and opposed certain expensive and destabilizing nuclear weapons systems – like the nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile – that harm national security by increasing the risk of unintended war.

As a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee for State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Senator Van Hollen has fought for additional resources for the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and initiatives focused on international assistance. Providing resources to USAID and peer agencies that promote international development is an essential component of our national security strategy. Some of the biggest threats we face are interconnected and global – including pandemics. Viruses know no borders, and our ability to defeat COVID-19 depends upon our willingness to partner with other nations to stop the spread and mount a successful recovery. USAID serves at the forefront of our efforts to beat this virus – and in doing so, helps maintain America’s longstanding tradition of being a leader in global health – as has been the case in fighting malaria, tuberculosis, and notably, HIV/AIDS through PEPFAR. As we work to strengthen the capacity of public health systems around the world, Senator Van Hollen also believes we should support efforts to expand educational opportunities, especially for those – like girls – who have been systematically denied access to schools in many parts of the world.

In the 21st century, we must be prepared to meet the evolving challenges of an increasingly globalized world while confronting the creeping trend of authoritarianism. Senator Van Hollen believes this will require the skillful deployment of all of our foreign policy tools: diplomacy, development, and defense capabilities.


Voting Rights

In a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, the vote is one of the most precious rights we have – and it must be defended fully and robustly. Yet, across the country, state legislatures are seizing on the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen, and many have moved to erect new barriers to the ballot box that make it harder for Americans to vote – especially people of color, Americans with disabilities, and younger voters. They are also enacting changes to make it easier for partisans in positions of power to substitute their preferences for the winner of the actual vote – overturning the will of the people. Meanwhile, big corporations and special interest groups continue to flood U.S. elections with secret, undisclosed money that eats away at our democracy, disempowers voters, and leaves the American people in the dark. Senator Van Hollen believes we must act urgently to put our democracy firmly back in the hands of the American people, and he’s a key leader in the fight to do just that.

In Congress, Senator Van Hollen is fighting to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, legislation he has cosponsored that would establish a minimum set of national standards to ensure that our fellow citizens can make their voices heard at the ballot box. In addition, this bill includes essential campaign finance reform provisions that Senator Van Hollen has championed for years, including the DISCLOSE Act that he originally authored and passed in the House to expose the individuals and corporations that are flooding our elections with secret dark money; elements from his Restoring Integrity to Federal Elections Act to strengthen the FEC’s authority to enforce campaign finance laws; and a small dollar campaign funding match program to empower everyday voters. This bill would also end partisan gerrymandering nationwide in federal elections so that voters pick their representatives – instead of representatives picking their voters. Senator Van Hollen is pairing his ongoing effort to pass broad democracy reform with his continuing push for the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore the full protections guaranteed under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that were shamefully undone by a divided Supreme Court in the controversial 5-4 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder. Unfortunately, not a single Republican Senator is prepared to join Senate Democrats in passing both of these bills.

The Senate GOP has weaponized the filibuster to thwart progress on voting rights and other key measures that enjoy the support of the American people. Senator Van Hollen believes we must restore the intent of the original rules of the Senate that allow for ample debate, but where the majority of senators can ultimately vote to reflect the will of the public. It’s time to end or amend the current Senate rule that allows 41 of the 100 senators to block votes on bills of vital importance to the country. We must address the ongoing threats to our democracy and restore function to the Senate.

Senator Van Hollen also believes that a strong democracy represents the voices of all the people, including those who live in our nation’s capital. For far too long, the people of the District of Columbia have been denied their right of self-governance and have faced taxation without representation. The people who reside in D.C. must be given the same basic political rights afforded to citizens in the fifty states: the right to send their representatives and senators to vote on their behalf in the House and Senate. Senator Van Hollen believes that we must grant the District statehood, now, and he is leading the fight to get it done.

Our American experiment is fragile, and the machinery of American democracy requires constant attention and care. That’s why Senator Van Hollen is fully dedicated to protecting the right to vote, strengthening the pillars of our democracy, and fending off partisan efforts to undermine faith in our elections – and he is doing everything in his power to advance those key goals in the Senate.

Human Rights

Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

America’s history is closely tied to the struggle for equal rights, equal justice, and equal opportunity for all. That is the common thread in the movements for civil rights, women’s rights, labor rights, LGBTQ+ rights, the rights of individuals with disabilities, and others. While these movements have yielded real progress, we still have a long way to go to build an ever-more perfect union. Senator Van Hollen’s leadership stems from a deeply-held commitment to advancing that mission.

Senator Van Hollen’s longstanding fight to protect civil rights dates back to his time in the Maryland General Assembly, where he fought successfully to pass legislation prohibiting racial profiling at traffic stops. Senator Van Hollen continues to advocate for an end to racial profiling and an end to the systemic discrimination within our institutions that has allowed these practices to continue. He believes strongly that we must stamp out racism in our institutions wherever it rears its ugly head and take necessary steps to repair past harm and build a more just future. Senator Van Hollen has partnered with colleagues across both houses of Congress and leaders across Maryland to promote necessary, common-sense changes in how we keep communities safe, protect civil liberties, and address the present scourge of mass incarceration. He has championed common-sense police reform – cosponsoring the Justice in Policing Act – and he is working with colleagues to update our criminal justice system so that addiction is no longer treated as a crime, but as a public health issue. In addition, he has led the charge to update how our communities respond to those emergency situations that do not require a use-of-force option and which would be best addressed by professionals trained in mental and behavioral health, crisis response, or mediation.

The injustices ingrained in our prison system must also be tackled head-on, and Senator Van Hollen is fighting to do just that. He opposes private prisons and is working with colleagues to end the federal government’s use of for-profit private prisons, nationwide. He is also partnering with lawmakers to pass a Constitutional amendment that would close a loophole protecting forced labor in our prison systems. He voted to pass the bipartisan First Step Act in the Senate, which became law in 2018, and he continues to support additional legislative efforts to ensure that formerly incarcerated individuals can fully contribute to our communities. That push includes a bill to restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated individuals, which complements Senator Van Hollen’s broader commitment to protecting and strengthening the right to vote.

Senator Van Hollen is equally dedicated to safeguarding women’s rights and promoting policies that advance gender equity. His efforts in this cause date back to his early days in public service when he ran on a pro-choice ticket during his very first election. He supports equal pay for equal work and has cosponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act to close the gender wage gap once and for all. He strongly supports passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which guarantees women equal rights under the Constitution. Senator Van Hollen has also been a champion for a woman’s right to choose. The House of Representatives has passed legislation to codify the protections enshrined in the precedent of the Roe v. Wade case. Now, it is time for the Senate to do its job and pass that legislation after the Supreme Court’s dangerous steps to take away a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, and Senator Van Hollen is one of the key lawmakers leading that charge.

The First Amendment in the Bill of Rights guarantees religious freedom without facing punishment by the government. The separation of church and state is central to the American project, and Senator Van Hollen is fighting for legislative solutions that will help us stay true to that founding promise. When Donald Trump issued an executive order blocking travel from majority Muslim countries, Senator Van Hollen joined forces with colleagues to stand up to that shameful act through legislation. President Biden’s decision to reverse this discriminatory ban on his first day helped restore religious liberty and our nation’s standing as an international beacon of hope. Senator Van Hollen will continue to push that effort forward.

The trajectory of civil rights is also closely bound to the trajectory of disability rights. The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 to protect people with disabilities against discrimination and ensure access to all parts of our society. But there is still more work to do to realize the full scope and spirit of those guarantees. That’s why Senator Van Hollen has continued to work closely with the disability community to promote civil rights and equal opportunity. He led the successful effort to pass the ABLE Act in order to help persons with disabilities and their families save for the future. Today, he is pushing for necessary enhancements to that legislation. Senator Van Hollen has also called for fair wages and integrated workplaces and fought for increased resources for education for students with disabilities year after year.

Senator Van Hollen strongly believes that no one should face discrimination because of who they love. He has been a leader for LGBTQ+ rights since his time in the Maryland General Assembly, when he fought to pass one of the nation’s earliest laws prohibiting discrimination in employment and housing on the basis of sexuality. In the Senate, he has cosponsored the Equality Act which would eliminate the disparities in existing laws that permit such discrimination across the country and provide legal protections and stability to LGBTQ+ families.

Each of us has a role to play in bending the arc of the moral universe toward justice. Senator Van Hollen is partnering with colleagues and community leaders to bend that arc further and faster.

Public Safety

Public Safety and Gun Violence Prevention

Every Marylander deserves to feel safe in their home and community. Senator Van Hollen is a champion for common-sense measures to end the disgraceful epidemic of gun violence that results in more than 45,000 deaths every year, nationwide – and claims the life of one Marylander every 13 hours. In the Maryland state legislature, Van Hollen was a key advocate for gun safety and led the push to require that guns sold in our state have built-in trigger locks to reduce accidental gun deaths. He has supported the state’s efforts to ban assault weapons and close loopholes. But Maryland is not an island, and more than half of the traced guns recovered here were purchased in other states. To end gun violence in our communities, we must pass common-sense reforms at the national level.

The list of common-sense measures we must pass is clear: close the gun show loophole and implement universal background checks; ban semi-automatic assault weapons like the AR-15; limit the number of rounds in magazines; to implement red flag laws to prevent individuals who are a danger to themselves or others from accessing guns; outlaw bump stocks; and eliminate the law that shields the gun industry from lawsuits for wrongdoing. Senator Van Hollen has also championed legislation to create a national permit-to-purchase handgun system modeled after Maryland’s handgun licensing law. States with in-person handgun licensing laws have a 56% lower risk of mass shootings than states without handgun licensing laws, and it’s time to enact this model on a national scale.

We also must enforce our existing gun laws, and Senator Van Hollen has helped lead the call to reform the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the federal agency charged with protecting the public from violent criminals, criminal organizations, and the illegal use of trafficking of firearms. For too long, barriers erected by gun-industry hardliners have hampered ATF’s ability to crack down on illegal gun trafficking and the small number of reckless gun dealers who are responsible for selling most of the guns that fall into dangerous hands. That’s why Senator Van Hollen is working to eliminate those obstacles so ATF can truly meet its public safety mission and reduce gun violence. 

Efforts to reduce gun violence must go hand-in-hand with additional initiatives to strengthen public safety and restore trust between police officers and the communities they serve. A central tenet of that mission is updating how we respond to emergencies. Not every crisis situation requires police to be the first responders, and Senator Van Hollen’s Community-Based Response Act would invest in systematic alternatives to police involvement for those situations where a use-of-force option is not required – putting the needs of our residents first, helping treat mental illness and drugs as a public health concern rather than a criminal justice concern, and ensuring law enforcement is available to respond to the situations they are trained for and best suited to handle.

Additionally, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Van Hollen has worked to deliver public safety resources to communities across Maryland. He was a key leader in the successful push to have Baltimore City included within the Department of Justice’s Public Safety Partnership (PSP) program, which helps cities invest in crime prevention strategies, and he continues to meet with partners at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and throughout our communities to discuss how we can improve safety in Maryland. To bolster public safety in Baltimore, Senator Van Hollen and colleagues in the Maryland congressional delegation are engaged in ongoing discussions with Attorney General Merrick Garland to continue to increase the number of ATF agents, deputy U.S. Marshals, and prosecutors working with local authorities to target violent crime and illegal guns. In addition, Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott has committed to using $50 million from the American Rescue Plan – which Senator Van Hollen helped craft and pass through the Senate – to fund violence prevention efforts in the city over the next three years. Senator Van Hollen has also worked with colleagues to confront MS-13 gang violence in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties by supporting funding for gang prevention and suppression efforts, and he continues to fight for more resources to combat gang violence in our communities.

Those efforts must be accompanied by additional investments in neighborhood organizations focused on violence prevention, and Senator Van Hollen strongly supports President Biden’s call to deliver $5 billion in federal funding to the DOJ and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to invest in programs that have been proven to help reduce violent crime. Combatting violent crime is one piece of a larger mission to strengthen Maryland communities. That mission also calls for extending new opportunities to all Marylanders through investments in schools, after school programs, mentorship opportunities, and other initiatives that help communities thrive. Senator Van Hollen is committed to doing just that, and he is working in our nation’s capital and at the grassroots level to expand opportunities for all.

Senator Van Hollen has also secured federal dollars for firefighters and emergency responders throughout our state to ensure that our local governments have the resources they need to keep communities safe. In addition, Senator Van Hollen has brought in funding to religious and non-profit organizations in Maryland through the Nonprofit Security Grant Program to protect organizations like churches, synagogues, and mosques that are at risk of attacks.

Senator Van Hollen is committed to strengthening Maryland communities and ensuring their safety from without and within.

Federal Workers

Maryland is home to a robust federal workforce that serves our country with pride. Federal employees work day-in and day-out to provide crucial services to the American people, and in the darkest hours of the COVID-19 pandemic, they stepped up by carrying out vital programs that help Americans put food on their tables and keep roofs over their heads. Senator Van Hollen has been a tireless champion for our federal workers and has fought to defend them against efforts to undermine the core tenets of our civil service system while simultaneously working alongside colleagues to secure benefits and protections that will make our government and our country stronger.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Van Hollen repeatedly called for the implementation of additional protections for federal employees to allow their vital work to continue while keeping them safe from exposure. That push included bipartisan efforts to increase remote work throughout the federal government. When the Trump White House took executive action that would make it easier for the Administration to fire non-partisan civil servants, Senator Van Hollen led the charge to block that assault on our federal agencies and ensure that civil servants, including many Marylanders, could continue their work on behalf of the American people without blatant partisan political interference. When partisan gamesmanship led to the shameful Trump Government Shutdown of 2018 and 2019, Senator Van Hollen spearheaded bipartisan efforts to ensure federal workers got paid retroactively once the government reopened, and he repeatedly stood with federal workers in calling for an end to these shameful shutdowns.

The Trump Administration attempted to undercut the civil workforce and hurt our federal employees, and though many of the harmful policies of the past Administration are being reversed by President Biden, there’s still more work to be done. Since he took office, Senator Van Hollen has fought to ensure that all federal employees are fairly compensated and treated with respect so they can continue to carry out their duties with the resources they need and the dignity they deserve. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Van Hollen has continuously fought for pay increases for federal workers within the yearly federal budget to keep salaries competitive and retain top talent. He was also a key voice for the inclusion of paid parental leave for federal workers within the National Defense Authorization Act that was negotiated between the House and Senate in 2019 and signed into law. Senator Van Hollen is a steadfast defender of the right of federal employees to organize and collectively bargain in the workplace, and he continues to work with their union representatives to ensure the fair treatment of our public servants.

Federal workers help keep our country running both in normal times and in times of crisis. Senator Van Hollen is fighting to ensure that they can carry out their essential work – unobstructed by political games – and have the resources they need to continue serving our fellow citizens with distinction.

Immigration Reform

America is a nation of immigrants, from our founding to today. Immigrants contribute to our communities as our friends, neighbors, and colleagues. The COVID-19 pandemic has further underscored the vital impact that immigrants have on our communities, as many have been working on the front lines. The ongoing mission to help our immigrant communities thrive in the United States is consistent with our nation’s values and is a proven path to forging a stronger economic future.

Fixing our immigration system is critical. Senator Van Hollen wholly supports comprehensive immigration reform and is pursuing several immediate actions to improve the immigration system. First, he is calling for a Senate vote on the House-passed American Dream and Promise Act, which would provide DREAMers the opportunity to apply for permanent legal status and eventually become eligible for citizenship. DREAMers arrived in our country as young children, and when they came out of the shadows, our government promised to protect them. We must keep that promise.

The American Dream and Promise Act also includes relief for recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) – in line with legislation that Senator Van Hollen has authored to allow qualified Temporary Protected Status recipients to apply for legal permanent residency. TPS recipients have often come to the U.S. from countries experiencing violence and turmoil. Many TPS recipients have lived here legally for over twenty years and have come to call our country and our state home. We must prioritize providing TPS recipients with security and certainty. Senator Van Hollen has complemented that ongoing effort with an additional push to expand TPS protections to immigrants from other struggling countries that have been overlooked for TPS designation by the Department of Homeland Security.

Elements from these essential bills have been included in President Biden’s U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, which Senator Van Hollen strongly supports. That sweeping plan not only provides certainty to our DREAMers, TPS recipients, and essential workers who have risked their lives to serve and protect our communities, but it also fixes our broken immigration system across-the-board, makes smart investments to secure our borders against human and drug trafficking, and marks an important reversal of the Trump Administration’s backward immigration policies. This bill provides an expanded pathway to citizenship for hardworking people who make our communities stronger every day, and Senator Van Hollen is determined to work with the Biden Administration and with Senate colleagues to get it passed.

Ever-committed to building on our nation’s tradition of embracing immigrant communities, Senator Van Hollen is also working to stand up against actions that break with our values. Senator Van Hollen visited the border during the Trump Administration’s implementation of its shameful family separation policy, and he witnessed, first-hand, the plight many were facing. Before, during, and after that visit, Senator Van Hollen has sounded the alarm whenever our own government violates the rules of due process. Toward that end, he has worked with colleagues to ensure that agencies prioritize enforcement against those who pose a security threat rather than dividing families and communities. 

The story of America is the story of immigrants. Senator Van Hollen is partnering with colleagues to stay true to that fact and live up to our nation’s long tradition of embracing those who come here seeking to join our communities and find new opportunities.


America’s senior citizens earned the dignity of a secure retirement after paying into Medicare and Social Security throughout their working lives. Medicare is one of the best tools the government has to help older Americans access the health care resources they need, and Social Security has been one of our country’s most successful government programs, providing a lifeline to millions of Americans and offering them critical support for a secure retirement. Senator Van Hollen is working to protect both of these essential programs and ensure their long-term solvency so that they are available for current and future generations. That effort goes hand-in-hand with his commitment to cutting prescription drug prices and lowering the costs of everyday expenses for our seniors.

For decades, Americans have depended on the Social Security benefits they’ve earned. Yet this vital program has been under attack, threatening working families’ financial security. When he served in the House of Representatives, then-Congressman Van Hollen blocked efforts to privatize parts of Social Security. Today, Senator Van Hollen is working with colleagues to get landmark Social Security legislation through Congress that would increase and expand retirement, disability, and survivor benefits and shore up Social Security’s long-term solvency.

Seniors also deserve a better deal on health care. In Maryland and across the country, they are burdened by the skyrocketing prices of essential and life-saving medications. Senator Van Hollen is working to improve our health care system for seniors, and prescription drug affordability is a key pillar of that effort. Allowing Medicare to negotiate the best possible price for prescription drugs that seniors need is a common-sense reform that will help control costs for the millions of Americans struggling to afford care. And with over 7 million seniors relying on Medicaid’s vital services that extend opportunity and healthy living, Senator Van Hollen has fought against any effort to slash funding from the program – and is advocating for an expansion of Medicaid in-home services. The Senator is also fighting to pass legislation that would prevent drug makers from increasing the price of prescription drugs above the rate of inflation under Medicare Parts B and D. All Americans – privately insured and uninsured – would benefit from that the cap on price increases, and Senator Van Hollen is committed to getting those crucial provisions across the finish line. He is working on multiple fronts to lower the cost of prescription medication and has introduced first-of-its-kind legislation to address skyrocketing drug prices by ensuring that the prices of drugs developed using federally-funded research are set at reasonable levels.

Senator Van Hollen has also led efforts to protect older Marylanders from financial fraud, which costs seniors an estimated $3 billion each year. The Senator has a track record of success in that fight, and he is building bridges across party lines to protect our seniors from fraud. He has joined forces with a group of bipartisan colleagues to craft legislation specifically designed to combat fraudulent scams aimed at older Americans, and he has also helped pass legislation to crack down on illegal robocalls, worked to prevent medical providers from going after patients’ incomes in order to recoup debt, and introduced new legislation that would protect consumers from online free trial scams.

In addition, Senator Van Hollen is working with colleagues to accelerate the discovery of new treatments and cures to diseases that impact virtually every American family – including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. He pushed to establish and maintain the Alzheimer’s Semipostal Stamp, which has raised significant funds for Alzheimer’s research. And Senator Van Hollen believes it’s time to leverage the full power of American research, medicine, and innovation to make a quantum leap forward in our fight to defeat Alzheimer’s, and many other diseases, once and for all – and has met with President Biden to discuss advancing these efforts. To meet this mission, he has continued to lead the way for increased investment in the National Institutes of Health, headquartered in Bethesda.

Senator Van Hollen is committed to keeping the promises we’ve made to our nation’s seniors, and he continues to focus his efforts in Congress on prioritizing their needs – both within Maryland and across the country.

Space and Science

Maryland is home to some of the finest institutions of cutting-edge research, innovation, and discovery in the United States and throughout the world. Marylanders are leading the charge to explore the cosmos, cure disease, and keep our nation competitive in the world economy. Senator Van Hollen is working hand-in-hand with experts in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine, manufacturing, and beyond to support their push toward new boundaries of research and explore new frontiers of innovation.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Van Hollen has repeatedly called for increased funding for the landmark research institutions that line our state and move our country forward, and he has collaborated with colleagues to secure that funding in the annual federal budget. Those efforts have helped Maryland workers at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Prince George’s County and NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia explore the boundaries of space. Senator Van Hollen has also supported increased federal funding for many other partners involved in our space programs including the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). STScI is currently managing the newly-launched James Webb Telescope, a project Senator Van Hollen has championed for years.

The Senator has consistently rallied support for increased federal resources for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which have both been on the front lines of fighting to beat this pandemic and at the vanguard of developing new treatments and therapies to eradicate diseases that impact virtually every American family – including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. Senator Van Hollen is working with colleagues to leverage the full power of American research, medicine, and innovation to make a quantum leap forward in our fight to defeat these diseases once and for all. He has met with President Biden to discuss advancing these efforts by launching the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), and he is working with leaders on the ground at NIH and FDA to make that vision a reality. In addition, Senator Van Hollen worked with his colleagues in the Maryland congressional delegation, including the late, great Congressman Elijah Cummings, to pass the Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act through Congress, and that legislation is now the law of the land.

Senator Van Hollen is also a vocal ambassador in our nation’s capital for the men and women who work at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – both of which are based in Maryland. These federal researchers are at the heart of efforts to conserve our natural treasures like the Chesapeake Bay, fight climate change, power American manufacturing, and uncover new scientific discoveries.

All of these institutions, from NIH to NIST, are working on the leading edge of innovation, which helps spread prosperity to communities across Maryland and across the country. But we must do more to keep America competitive in the 21stcentury. When it comes to technology, standing still means falling behind. That’s why Senator Van Hollen helped craft and pass the Senate’s United States Innovation and Competition Act. That legislation will help boost innovation, fund key research institutions like NIST, secure America’s supply chain to grow manufacturing and cut costs, and create jobs in Maryland. It will also help curtail the theft of trade secrets and meet the rising global challenge of China. Senator Van Hollen authored a number of vital measures within this package – including provisions to prevent the theft of key U.S. technologies and identify the most important challenges in science and technology that we must tackle.

That legislation also includes provisions that will advance Senator Van Hollen’s effort to bring more diversity to the pipeline for scientific careers. The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act creates a new grant program at the National Science Foundation to support research activity at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). That provision will help build research capacity at Maryland’s four HBCUs and MSIs and nurture innovation at peer institutions across the nation. Crucially, the competition bill also creates a two-year pilot program to award grants to researchers early in their careers, with priority given to researchers from backgrounds underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). To complement this effort, Senator Van Hollen has fought for increased funding to support STEM education through his role on the Senate Appropriations Committee. He is also pushing for the passage of the National Fab Lab Network Act to give students and entrepreneurs greater access to make spaces with cutting-edge fabrication technologies like 3-D printers and laser cutters.

The history of our state and our country has been written by the brave men and women who summoned the courage to push us toward new horizons in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, research, and innovation. Senator Van Hollen strongly believes that our generation has a duty to carry that torch forward, and he’s working with experts in Maryland and colleagues in Washington to achieve that goal.

Veterans and Military Families

Our nation has a duty to support those who have risked their lives for our security and freedom. Many of our veterans, military members, and military families are facing a series of challenges that we must work harder to address. Senator Van Hollen believes it is our responsibility as Americans to deliver on the promise we’ve made to support our men and women in uniform both during their time of service and after they return to civilian life, and he is committed to honoring that pledge.

Senator Van Hollen has been an advocate for our veterans throughout his time in public service. After Walter Reed Army Medical Center was relocated to Maryland in 2011, then-Congressman Van Hollen led the charge to secure infrastructure funding to ensure that veterans and their families could easily access the facility. Working in partnership with veterans and industry leaders, Van Hollen teamed up with the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce to launch the nationwide Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP) to help veteran-owned small businesses access government contracting opportunities.

Today, Senator Van Hollen remains deeply committed to ensuring that our veterans have access to the very best support a grateful nation can provide. That starts with health care. Senator Van Hollen has fought to open new Community-Based Outpatient Clinics in Gaithersburg and Lexington Park and a replacement facility at Charlotte Hall, and he remains dedicated to ensuring that the needs of all of our Maryland and Capitol Region VA Medical Centers are met. In addition, he was a proud cosponsor of the Deborah Sampson Act to ensure women veterans can access the quality health care and benefits they need. That bipartisan bill became law in 2017 and is now delivering new resources and services to VA health facilities across the country.

In addition, COVID-19 created new challenges on a number of health care and financial fronts for all Americans, including many veterans in Maryland. That is why Senator Van Hollen supported the American Rescue Plan, which included funding for pandemic-related health care, debt forgiveness linked to health care costs, and job training while simultaneously reducing the claims backlog at the Veterans Benefits Administration and investing in the unique needs of the VA. Those resources, along with other federal relief, continue to play a critical role in helping our veterans and military families during this crisis.

Senator Van Hollen is also committed to eradicating veteran homelessness and to ensuring no veteran goes hungry. In the Senate, he has been a vocal advocate for the HUD-VASH program – an ongoing collaboration between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the VA to end veteran homelessness once and for all, nationwide. That program has already helped eliminate veteran homelessness in Montgomery County.

Senator Van Hollen is equally dedicated to ensuring that our military and their families have the support they need for their service. He has consistently supported pay raises for the military and was a cosponsor of the Military Hunger Prevention Act, which establishes a Basic Needs Allowance to help low-income members of the military and their families access affordable and healthy food options. Provisions from that legislation were included in the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) so that no military family suffers from food insecurity. And following the death of Marine First Lieutenant Conor McDowell in a training accident, Senator Van Hollen has been working with members of the Maryland congressional delegation to examine the dangerous trend of training accidents in military vehicles and implement suggested reforms from the Government Accountability Office.

Maryland is home to key military installations, and Senator Van Hollen is working with colleagues to support those installations and the men and women who work there. Shortly after being sworn in as Senator for Maryland, Van Hollen successfully defended the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center at Fort Detrick and the Chemical Security Analysis Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground against the Trump Administration’s efforts to shut them down. He has advanced other campaigns to support cutting-edge energetics research – including at the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Indian Head – and to invest in infrastructure projects at Fort Meade and Joint Base Andrews. In addition, Senator Van Hollen has pushed for improvements to on-base housing, including accountability for private providers, to ensure that our military personnel’s basic needs are met.

As we work to bolster support for our veterans, our military, and their families, we also have a duty to honor the heroes who have served and sacrificed for our freedom, but have been overlooked because of their race. Many World War I veterans weren’t considered for the Medal of Honor merely on the basis of their skin color, and Senator Van Hollen successfully led bipartisan colleagues in an effort to change that. In 2019, Senator Van Hollen’s legislation to issue an honorary promotion of Colonel (Ret.) Charles E. McGee of the United States Air Force passed the Senate unanimously and was later signed into law. Additionally, he has worked to posthumously award the Medal of Honor to the late World War II Corporal Waverly B. Woodson, Jr., a former resident of Clarksburg, Maryland, who saved dozens of lives during the D-Day invasion, and Senator Van Hollen continues that fight to this day.

Our military service members have been there for us; we need to be here for them. Senator Van Hollen is committed to supporting our troops, their families, and our military installations in Maryland while also honoring those who have served – and delivering for our veterans on the promise of quality health care, education, affordable housing, and the opportunity to start a business and succeed in the workforce.

More Information

State of Maryland

Maryland is a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware and the Atlantic Ocean to its east. Baltimore is the largest city in the state and the capital is Annapolis. Among its occasional nicknames are Old Line State, the Free State, and the Chesapeake Bay State. It is named after the English Queen Henrietta Maria, known in England as Queen Mary, who was the wife of King Charles.

OnAir post




Christopher Van Hollen Jr. (/væn ˈhɒlən/ van HOL-ən; born January 10, 1959) is an American attorney and politician serving as the junior United States senator from Maryland since 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, Van Hollen served as the U.S. representative for Maryland’s 8th congressional district from 2003 to 2017.[1][2]

In 2007, Van Hollen became the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). In this post, he was responsible for leading efforts to defend vulnerable Democrats and get more Democrats elected to Congress in 2008, which he did. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi created a new leadership post, Assistant to the Speaker, in 2006 so that Van Hollen could be present at all leadership meetings. He was elected ranking member on the Budget Committee on November 17, 2010. Pelosi appointed Van Hollen to the 12-member bipartisan Committee on Deficit Reduction with a mandate for finding major budget reductions by late 2011. On October 17, 2013, Pelosi appointed Van Hollen to serve on the bicameral conference committee.[3]

Van Hollen ran for the United States Senate in 2016 to replace retiring Senator Barbara Mikulski. He defeated U.S. Representative Donna Edwards in the Democratic primary and won the general election with 61% of the vote to Republican nominee Kathy Szeliga‘s 36%. He was reelected in 2022 with nearly 66% of the vote to Republican nominee Chris Chaffee’s 34%. Van Hollen chaired the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) from 2017 to 2019.[4] Van Hollen will become Maryland’s senior senator when Ben Cardin retires from the Senate in 2025.[5]

Early life, education, and career

Van Hollen was born in Karachi, Pakistan, the eldest of three children of American parents, Edith Eliza (née Farnsworth) and Christopher Van Hollen.[6][7] His father was a Foreign Service officer who served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs (1969–1972) and U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives (1972–1976);[8] his mother worked in the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department, where she served as chief of the intelligence bureau for South Asia.[7][9] He spent parts of his early life in Pakistan, Turkey, India, and Sri Lanka.[9][10] He returned to the United States for his junior year of high school, and attended Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts, where his grandfather had once taught.[9]

He is an alumnus of the Kodaikanal International School (in Dindigul district, Tamil Nadu, India).[citation needed] In 1982, Van Hollen graduated from Swarthmore College with a BA in philosophy.[11] He continued his studies at Harvard University, where he earned a master of public policy, concentrating in national security studies, from the John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1985.[11] He earned a JD from Georgetown University Law Center in 1990.[11]

Early political career

Van Hollen worked as a legislative assistant for defense and foreign policy to U.S. Senator Charles Mathias, a Republican from Maryland, from 1985 to 1987.[12] He was also a staff member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (1987–1989), and a legislative advisor for federal affairs to Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer (1989–1991).[12] He was admitted to the Maryland bar in 1990, and joined the law firm of Arent Fox.[13]

Maryland State Legislature

Van Hollen served in the Maryland General Assembly from 1991 to 2003, first in the House of Delegates (1991–1995) and then in the State Senate (1995–2003).[11] In the Senate, he served on the Budget and Taxation Committee and the Health and Human Services Subcommittee. He led successful efforts to raise the tobacco tax, prohibit oil drilling in the Chesapeake Bay, mandate trigger locks for guns, and increase funding for education and healthcare.[9] In 2002, The Washington Post called Van Hollen “one of the most accomplished members of the General Assembly.”[14]

U.S. House of Representatives (2003–2017)

Chris Van Hollen joining Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson (at the podium and to the left of Van Hollen) for the announcement of the county’s legislative agenda for 2005


Before Van Hollen’s election, incumbent Connie Morella had won eight elections in the district, despite being a Republican in a district that had swung heavily Democratic. Morella’s success was largely attributed to her political independence and relatively liberal voting record, including support for abortion rights, gay rights, gun control and increased environmental protections.[citation needed]

After Morella’s reelection in 2000, Democratic Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Miller, Jr. made no secret that he wanted to draw the 8th out from under Morella. Indeed, one redistricting plan after the 2000 census divided the 8th in two, giving one district to Van Hollen and forcing Morella to run against popular State Delegate Mark Kennedy Shriver. The final plan was far less ambitious, but made the district even more Democratic than its predecessor. It absorbed nine heavily Democratic precincts from neighboring Prince George’s County, an area Morella had never represented. It also restored a heavily Democratic spur in eastern Montgomery County that had been cut out in the last round of redistricting.[15] Van Hollen defeated Morella in the 2002 general election in part, according to some analysts, because of this redistricting.[16]

In 2002, Van Hollen entered a competitive Democratic primary against Shriver and former Clinton administration aide Ira Shapiro. Though Shriver had the most money, Van Hollen launched a grassroots effort that mobilized Democratic voters. After receiving the endorsement of The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, and other local papers, Van Hollen defeated Shriver, 43.5% to 40.6%.[citation needed]

During the campaign, Van Hollen emphasized that even when Morella voted with the district, her partisan affiliation kept Tom DeLay and the rest of her party’s more conservative leadership in power. Van Hollen also touted his leadership in the State Senate on issues such as education funding, HMO reform, trigger locks for handguns, and protecting the Chesapeake Bay from oil drilling. Van Hollen defeated Morella, 51.7% to 48.2%.[17] He crushed Morella in Prince George’s County while narrowly winning Montgomery County. Morella won most of the precincts she had previously represented.

Van Hollen was reelected four times from this district with over 70% of the vote.[citation needed]

After the 2010 census, Van Hollen’s district was made slightly less Democratic. He lost a heavily Democratic spur of Montgomery County to the neighboring 6th district, and lost his share of Prince George’s County to the 4th district. In their place, the 8th absorbed a strongly Republican spur of Frederick County, as well as the southern part of even more Republican Carroll County. Nonetheless, his share of Montgomery County has more than double the population of his shares of Carroll and Frederick Counties combined, and Van Hollen won a sixth term over Republican Ken Timmerman with 63% of the vote. He lost in Carroll and Frederick, but swamped Timmerman in Montgomery by 113,500 votes.[citation needed]


In 2003, the Committee for Education Funding, a nonpartisan education coalition founded in 1969, named Van Hollen its Outstanding New Member of the Year.[18] The first bill Van Hollen introduces every session is the Keep Our Promise to America’s Children and Teachers (Keep Our PACT) Act, which would fully fund No Child Left Behind and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. He introduced an amendment, which passed, that repealed a 9.5 percent loophole in student loans that had allowed lenders to pocket billions of taxpayer dollars. Now, that money is available for additional student loans.[19]

Because many federal employees live in his district, Van Hollen has worked on a number of issues relating to them. He supported pay parity in pay raises for civilian employees and introduced an amendment, which passed, to block attempts to outsource federal jobs.[20]

Official portrait as a U.S. representative, 2010

Van Hollen has secured federal funding for a number of local-interest projects, including transportation initiatives, local homeland security efforts, education programs and community development projects. He and Adam Schiff (D-CA) often discuss issues of National Security on the floor of the House in tandem, with particular commentary on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.[21]

In May 2006, Van Hollen formed a congressional caucus on the Netherlands with Dutch-born Republican U.S. Representative Pete Hoekstra from Michigan. The goal of the caucus is to promote the U.S. relationship with the Netherlands and remember the Dutch role in establishing the State of New York and the United States.[22]

Van Hollen speaking during the second day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, in his capacity as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He is flanked by Democratic House challengers.

In July 2006, Van Hollen urged the Bush administration to support a ceasefire supported by a peacekeeping force that would end the 2006 Lebanon War. He was criticized by elements of the Jewish and pro-Israel community, a large part of his constituency, for criticizing U.S. and Israeli policy in the Lebanon conflict.[23] In follow-up comments, Van Hollen indicated that his original comments were meant as a critique of Bush administration policy but did not retract his position, and other members of the local Jewish and pro-Israel community defended him.[23][24][25]

In 2006, Van Hollen opted out of the race to succeed the retiring Senator Paul Sarbanes, saying he would rather spend time with his family and help elect more Democrats to Congress.[26] In keeping with that, Van Hollen was appointed to Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

In 2009, Van Hollen introduced a bill which establishes a green bank to catalyze the financing of clean energy and energy efficiency projects.[27] He reintroduced the same bill again in 2014.[28]

In March 2010, when Charles Rangel was forced to resign as Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means over ethics charges, Van Hollen played a key role in having Sander Levin succeed to the Chairmanship over Pete Stark. Stark was the second-most experienced member of the committee while Levin was third, and party tradition would have made Stark chairman due to seniority. However, Van Hollen and other younger members saw Stark’s past intemperate comments as a liability to the Democrats in an election year.[29]

On April 29, 2010, Van Hollen introduced the campaign finance DISCLOSE Act.[30] He reintroduced the bill for the 113th Congress on February 9, 2012.[31]

In April 2011, Van Hollen sued the Federal Election Commission, charging it with regulatory capture and the creation of a loophole that allowed unlimited and undisclosed financing in the 2010 election season. According to Van Hollen, had it not been for the loophole, “much of the more than $135 million in secret contributions that funded expenditures would have been disclosed.”[32][needs update]

During the 2012 Obama reelection campaign, Van Hollen participated in one-on-one debate prep with vice president Joe Biden, impersonating the Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan.[33]

Party leadership and caucus memberships

U.S. Senate (2017–present)



Van Hollen defeated Republican Kathy Szeliga in the general election, 61% to 36%. He replaced Democrat Barbara Mikulski, who had retired from the Senate after serving for 30 years.[37]


Van Hollen was reelected to a second term in 2022, defeating Republican Chris Chaffee with 65.8% of the vote to Chaffee’s 34.1%.[38]


115th Congress (2017–2019)

Shortly after the 2016 elections, Van Hollen was selected as the Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) for the 2018 cycle.[4]

117th Congress (2021–present)
Chris Van Hollen giving his Electoral College count remarks, including his response to the January 6 United States Capitol attack.

Van Hollen was walking to the Senate chambers to speak during the 2021 United States Electoral College vote count when he was stopped by U.S. Capitol Police telling him that the building was on lockdown due to the attack on the Capitol.[39] He returned to his office, where he remained for the duration of the attack.[40] In the immediate wake of the insurrection, Van Hollen called Trump a “political arsonist” and said “I never thought we would live to see the day that violent mobs seized control of the Capitol. I cry for our country.”[41] As Van Hollen waited for the Capitol to be secured, he said he wanted an immediate investigation, calling the perpetrators “a violent mob.” He also contrasted the police’s treatment of the rioters with events that led to the use of tear gas on peaceful demonstrators, such as Black Lives Matter protests.[42] After Congress returned to session to count the electoral votes, he voted against objections raised by some Republican senators.[43] Van Hollen also called for Trump’s “immediate removal” via the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and said, “we should have looked at that option much earlier.”[39]

Committee assignments



Caucus memberships

Political positions


In 2023 Van Hollen received a 100% score from the League of Conservation Voters.[45]


According to his campaign website, Van Hollen supports an increase in the minimum wage, paid sick leave, an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, equal pay for women, an increase in the child care tax credit, and a financial transactions tax.[46]


In October 2018, Van Hollen and Susan Collins cosponsored the Protect Our Elections Act, legislation that would block “any persons from foreign adversaries from owning or having control over vendors administering U.S. elections” and would make companies involved in administering elections reveal foreign owners and inform local, state and federal authorities if said ownership changes. Companies failing to comply would face fines of $100,000.[47][48]

Foreign policy

In May 2020, Van Hollen voiced his opposition to Israel‘s plan to annex parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.[49]

In January 2024, Van Hollen voted for a resolution, proposed by Bernie Sanders, to apply the human rights provisions of the Foreign Assistance Act to U.S. aid to Israel’s military. The proposal was defeated, 72 to 11.[50]

Gun control

Van Hollen has been endorsed by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a group that lobbies for more regulation of guns.[51] In September 2008, he voted against repealing parts of the Washington, D.C., firearm ban. He supports a national assault weapon ban.[52]

In 2015, Van Hollen introduced legislation for increased handgun licensing, specifically the requirement for permit-to-purchase licenses. The proposal was based on a similar law in Maryland. Of his proposal, Van Hollen said, “States require licenses to drive a car or even to fish in local rivers, so requiring a license to buy a deadly handgun is a commonsense step that could save countless lives.”[53]

In response to the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, Van Hollen co-sponsored a bill to ban bump stocks.[54]


Van Hollen supports Obamacare and has defended it many times.[55][56][57][58][59] He is also pro-choice[60] and he was an original co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021.[61]


In July 2019 Van Hollen cosponsored the Fallen Journalists Memorial Act, a bill introduced by Ben Cardin and Rob Portman that would create a privately funded memorial to be constructed on federal lands in Washington, D.C. to honor journalists, photographers, and broadcasters who died in the line of duty.[62]

LGBTQIA+ rights

Van Hollen supports transgender rights, having signed a letter in July 2017 in opposition to an announced military ban.[63]


Van Hollen received a 0% rating for the Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), and the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), in 2010.[64] Both these organizations advocate for lower taxes for everyone including the wealthy.[65][66] In 2006, Van Hollen received a 100% rating from Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ), a group that calls for higher taxes on the wealthy.[67] Van Hollen opposes eliminating the federal estate tax.[64][68]

Personal life

Van Hollen and his wife Katherine have three children: Anna, Nicholas, and Alexander.[69] Van Hollen is of Dutch descent[70] and is Episcopalian.[71][72]


On May 15, 2022, Van Hollen announced that he had a minor stroke over that weekend and would stay at George Washington University Hospital for a few days. He further said he was expected to make a full recovery with no long-term effects and would return to his work in the Senate later in the week.[73]

Electoral history

Maryland’s 8th congressional district election, 2002[74]
DemocraticChris Van Hollen 112,788 51.74
RepublicanConnie Morella (incumbent)103,58747.52
Total votes217,974 100.00
Democratic gain from Republican
Maryland’s 8th congressional district election, 2004[75]
DemocraticChris Van Hollen (incumbent) 215,129 74.91
RepublicanChuck Floyd71,98925.07
Total votes287,197 100.00
Democratic hold
Maryland’s 8th congressional district election, 2006[76]
DemocraticChris Van Hollen (incumbent) 168,872 76.52
RepublicanJeffrey M. Stein48,32421.90
GreenGerard P. Giblin3,2981.49
Total votes220,685 100.00
Democratic hold
Maryland’s 8th congressional district election, 2008[77]
DemocraticChris Van Hollen (incumbent) 229,740 75.08
RepublicanSteve Hudson66,35121.68
GreenGordon Clark6,8282.23
LibertarianIan Thomas2,5620.84
Total votes306,014 100.00
Democratic hold
Maryland’s 8th congressional district election, 2010[78]
DemocraticChris Van Hollen (incumbent) 153,613 73.27
RepublicanMichael Lee Philips52,42125.00
LibertarianMark Grannis2,7131.29
ConstitutionFred Nordhorn6960.33
Total votes209,667 100.00
Democratic hold
Maryland’s 8th congressional district election, 2012[79]
DemocraticChris Van Hollen (incumbent) 217,531 63.37
RepublicanKenneth R. Timmerman113,03332.93
LibertarianMark Grannis7,2352.11
GreenGeorge Gluck5,0641.48
Total votes343,256 100.00
Democratic hold
Maryland’s 8th congressional district election, 2014[80]
DemocraticChris Van Hollen (incumbent) 136,722 60.74
RepublicanDave Wallace87,85939.03
Total votes225,097 100.00
Democratic hold
United States Senate Democratic primary results in Maryland, 2016[81]
DemocraticChris Van Hollen 470,320 53.18
DemocraticDonna Edwards343,62038.86
DemocraticFreddie Dickson14,8561.68
DemocraticTheresa Scaldaferri13,1781.49
DemocraticViolet Staley10,2441.16
DemocraticLih Young8,5610.96
DemocraticCharles Smith7,9120.89
DemocraticRalph Jaffe7,1610.81
DemocraticBlaine Taylor5,9320.67
DemocraticEd Tinus2,5600.29
Total votes884,344 100.00%
United States Senate election in Maryland, 2016[82]
DemocraticChris Van Hollen 1,659,907 60.89 -1.30
RepublicanKathy Szeliga972,55735.67-0.08
GreenMargaret Flowers89,9703.30+2.17
Total votes2,726,170 100.00 N/A
Democratic hold
United States Senate election in Maryland, 2022[83]
DemocraticChris Van Hollen (incumbent) 1,316,897 65.7 +4.88
RepublicanChris Chaffee682,29334.0−1.60
Total votes2,002,336 100.00 N/A
Democratic hold

See also


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  69. ^ “About Chris”. Archived from the original on August 20, 2017. Retrieved August 19, 2017.
  70. ^ “Van Hollen, Hoekstra to Announce Founding of Congressional Caucus on the Netherlands”. Archived from the original on September 20, 2014. Retrieved January 10, 2013. Van Hollen, who is of Dutch descent
  71. ^ Schaul, Kevin; Schwarz, Hunter (September 22, 2015). “Maps: Religions of our representatives”. The Washington Post.
  72. ^ “The Religious Affiliation of Each Member of Congress” (PDF). January 3, 2013.
  73. ^ McKend, Eva. “Maryland Sen. Van Hollen hospitalized after stroke but says no long-term damage”. CNN. Retrieved May 16, 2022.
  74. ^ Clerk of the House of Representatives (May 1, 2003). “Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 5, 2002” (PDF). U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
  75. ^ Clerk of the House of Representatives (June 7, 2005). “Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 2, 2004” (PDF). U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
  76. ^ Clerk of the House of Representatives (September 21, 2007). “Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 7, 2006” (PDF). U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
  77. ^ Clerk of the House of Representatives (July 10, 2009). “Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 4, 2008” (PDF). U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
  78. ^ Clerk of the House of Representatives (June 3, 2011). “Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010” (PDF). U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
  79. ^ Clerk of the House of Representatives (February 28, 2013). “Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 6, 2012” (PDF). U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
  80. ^ “Official 2014 Gubernatorial General Election results for Representative in Congress”. Maryland State Board of Elections. December 2, 2014. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
  81. ^ “Official 2016 Presidential Primary Election results for U.S. Senator”. State Board of Elections. Retrieved May 31, 2016.
  82. ^ “Official 2016 Presidential General Election results for U.S. Senator”. Maryland Secretary of State. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  83. ^ “Official 2022 Gubernatorial General Election Results for U.S. Senator”. Maryland State Board of Elections.

Further reading

  • Barone, Michael, and Chuck McCutcheon. The Almanac of American Politics 2012 (2011) pp 762–5

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland’s 8th congressional district

Succeeded by

Preceded by

Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee
Succeeded by

Party political offices
Preceded by

Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
Succeeded by

Preceded by

House Democratic Assistant to the Leader
Succeeded by

as House Assistant Democratic Leader

Preceded by

Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Maryland
(Class 3)

2016, 2022
Most recent
Preceded by

Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
Succeeded by

U.S. Senate
Preceded by

Barbara Mikulski
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Maryland
Served alongside: Ben Cardin
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by

as United States Senator from Alaska

Order of precedence of the United States
as United States Senator from Maryland

since January 3, 2017
Succeeded by

as United States Senator from New Hampshire

United States senators by seniority
Succeeded by


Chris Van Hollen – MD

Current Position: US Senator
Affiliation: Democrat
Former Positions: US Representative District 8 from 2003 – 2017; State Senator from 1995 – 2003; Lawyer from 1990 – 2003
Other Positions:  Chair, Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government

In 2007, Van Hollen became the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). His father was a Foreign Service officer. Van Hollen worked as a legislative assistant for defense and foreign policy to U.S. Senator Charles Mathias and a legislative advisor for federal affairs to Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer. He joined the law firm of Arent Fox.

OnAir Post: Chris Van Hollen – MD

2022 MD Senate Race

The 2022 United States Senate election in Maryland will be held on November 8, 2022, to elect a member of the United States Senate to represent the state of Maryland.

Incumbent Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen was first elected in 2016 with 60.9% of the vote, winning the seat of retiring incumbent Barbara Mikulski, and is running for a second term.

OnAir Post: 2022 MD Senate Race

Chris Chaffee

Current Position: Owner, Building and Contracting Business
Affiliation: Republican
Candidate: 2022 US Senator

Candidate, United States Senate, Maryland, 2016, 2018, 2022

Candidate, United States House of Representatives, District 5, 2014

Candidate, United States House of Representatives, District 5, 2010

OnAir Post: Chris Chaffee

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