Van Hollen Statement On SOTU

Statement issued just as the speech ended:

Van Hollen Statement on State of the Union 

Washington, DC – Today Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen released the following statement following President Obama’s final State of the Union address
“Tonight, President Obama shared an optimistic view of America and its ability to lead the world through our collective challenges. I share this view of a strong America – one that can unite 195 nations around the goal of saving the planet from climate change, one that can help eradicate deadly diseases like Ebola, and one that aims to cultivate a new relationship with Cuba to better the lives of its people and our own. 
“We cannot be a force for progress and peace if our political discourse is defined by fear. I commend the President for maintaining a hopeful vision that has led to millions of new jobs, millions of Americans gaining health insurance coverage, easier access to an affordable college education for our young people, and a healthier future for our planet.
“Under President Obama’s leadership, our nation has made great progress recovering from the Great Recession. To sustain and accelerate our economic growth, every American needs the opportunity to succeed. That means building an economy that rewards hard work, not just those making money off of money. We must work together in the year to come to build an economy that works for all Americans.”

BREAKING: Sierra Club Endorses Van Hollen [UPDATED]

Third breaking story of the day and it’s only 3:00. John Fritze has the story:

Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s campaign for Senate picked up the endorsement Monday of the Sierra Club, the latest nod to the role climate change and the Chesapeake Bay could play in the Democratic primary to replace Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.

“We have seen his record for the past decades,” the group’s president, Aaron Mair, said on the shore of the Anacostia River in Bladensburg. “Chris is a climate champion and he has shown that he has the fortitude to craft and pass legislation to combat” climate change.

Donna Edwards didn’t let the moment pass without highlighting a dissenting opinion from within the Sierra Club board.

Shortly before the event began, Van Hollen’s opponent, Rep. Donna Edwards of Prince George’s County, highlighted two Sierra Club members who questioned the group’s decision.

“Donna Edwards is the clear choice for Marylanders concerned about our environment,” Bonnie Bick, political chair of the Southern Maryland group, said in a statement released by the Edwards campaign. “These dangerous trends cannot be reversed unless we choose brave and bold leaders who are committed to a better future.”

In the end, however, another significant endorsement for Van Hollen.

UPDATE: Informed sources advise that the vote for Van Hollen was “overwhelming,” and that Ms. Bick was the only member of the Sierra Club board to dissent from the endorsement.

Van Hollen On The Floor: “Denying Women Access to Affordable Care is GOP’s Top Priority in 2016”

Here are Chris Van Hollen’s opening remarks on the House floor on the GOP budget reconciliation bill that seeks to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Dude has been incredibly busy today cranking out important statements on policy issues.

It may be a new year, Mr. Speaker, but here we go again. We’re in this Congress on the floor of this House for the 62nd time with this effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. And to add insult to injury, to deny millions of women access to health care choices by targeting Planned Parenthood.

So while the calendar has changed, the Tea Party Republican agenda remains the same. Despite all the pressing issues we face in this country at home and abroad, the only thing and the first thing our Republican colleagues decide to bring to the floor of the House – as the most pressing business to start 2016 – was to take away access to affordable care to 22 million Americans and deny access to affordable care for millions of American women.

That 22 million figure, Mr. Speaker – that’s not my figure. That’s the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office that has looked at this legislation and concluded that as a result of this bill, 22 million Americans will lose access to their affordable health insurance. So it will be the freedom to be uninsured – the freedom to not have any opportunity to have coverage when your family has health care needs.

Mr. Speaker, if you look at this chart, you can see that the Affordable Care Act has already made a dramatic difference in bringing down the number of uninsured in the United States of America. And yet here we are in a new year, and the first act of this Republican Congress will be to turn back the clock and change that figure.

So I really hope, Mr. Speaker, that our colleagues will begin to focus on more important issues in the days ahead. Everybody knows that this will take about a nanosecond for the President of the United States to veto, because the President of the United States is not going to allow 22 million Americans to lose their access to affordable health insurance. And the President is not going to allow millions of Americans, and millions of American women, to lose access to reproductive choice and a range of health care options here in the United States.

So it’s disturbing, shameful, sad that this is the way we’re starting the new year. I hope we get on to more important business, Mr. Speaker.

Van Hollen Statement On DHS Deportation Raids 

Boy, the Van Hollen press shop is busy churning ’em out today.

The Department of Homeland Security’s renewed effort to deport families and children is the wrong approach that’s causing unthinkable heartache for hardworking immigrant families who fear being separated. When families come to America fleeing for their lives, they should be treated in a manner consistent with our nation’s founding ideals – not like the dangerous felons who should instead be the focus of enforcement. That’s why I’ve been fighting for comprehensive immigration reform, and Congress must act to finally fix our broken immigration system.

Well said, Congressman. There is no excuse for these raids.

More Van Hollen Endorsements

Four members of the Baltimore County Council endorsed Chris Van Hollen’s campaign for US Senate Monday, reports the Sun.

U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen on Monday picked up endorsements from four Baltimore County officials in his bid to be elected to the U.S. Senate.

County Council members Vicki Almond, Cathy Bevins, Julian Jones and Tom Quirk — all Democrats— offered their support to Van Hollen during an event in Towson.
Van Hollen is competing with Rep. Donna F. Edwards for the Democratic nomination in the race to replace Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, who is retiring. Van Hollen is from Montgomery County and Edwards hails from Prince George’s County.
“I think he’s not only a leader for the state, I think he’s a leader nationally,” Quirk said of Van Hollen. Almond praised Van Hollen’s work on education issues, while Bevins said she thinks he is the best choice to help bring more jobs to the region.

New Van Hollen Ad In Baltimore

Chris Van Hollen has a new ad running in the Baltimore media market targeting women. It’s his third ad airing in the Baltimore market. John Fritze reports:

Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s campaign for Maryland’s open Senate seat went back up on television Wednesday with a new ad targeted at women, a key demographic both campaigns are hoping to court.

The ad, running on broadcast and cable television in Baltimore, notes Van Hollen’s high score from groups like Planned Parenthood, and his work on women’s health care as the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.

The new ad comes as an influential women’s group is airing a separate spot supporting his opponent, Rep. Donna Edwards. Emily’s List, the Washington-based group that helps elect Democratic women who support abortion rights, launched a $1 million advertising campaign for Edwards at the end of November.

Throughout her campaign Edwards, of Prince George’s County, has discussed the importance of diversity in the Senate. Both candidates are running to succeed Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, the first woman elected to the Senate without the benefit of a father or husband preceding her.

And yet Van Hollen has refused to cede the ground to Edwards. A Baltimore Sun/ University of Baltimore poll in November found Van Hollen beating Edwards by seven percentage points among women, and the Montgomery County lawmaker has received more endorsements from elected females in Maryland.

One of them, Sen. Delores G. Kelley of Baltimore County, is featured in Van Hollen’s latest ad.

“A lot of people can talk, but they can’t deliver,” Kelley says, referencing a narrative pushed by the Van Hollen campaign that he has been more effective in Congress than Edwards. “Chris can.”

Here’s the ad:

EMILY’S List Complaint About Van Hollen

The tensions between EMILY’s List and Chris Van Hollen are heating up fast. The Post reports this morning that EL has filed an FEC complaint regarding Van Hollen’s communications with EL donors.

A powerful Democratic women’s group says Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has been targeting its donors to peel away support from his primary rival, Rep. Donna F. Edwards, for Maryland’s open Senate seat.

In a complaint to the Federal Election Commission filed Monday, Emily’s List said that Van Hollen illegally used the group’s financial disclosures to send out a fundraising solicitation to its donors.
“We are taking action to protect you from actors willing to abuse the system,” Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock said in a letter to donors who have supported Edwards.

The “abuse” turns out to be a letter responding to an earlier EMILY’s List email that among other things  referred to Van Hollen as a Republican.

Supporters in at least eleven states got a letter and solicitation from the Van Hollen campaign. The campaign letter, by former NARAL Pro-Choice America board chairman Rosalyn Levy Jonas, refers to an email in which Emily’s List identified Van Hollen incorrectly as a Republican.

“Sadly, Emily’s List, which I have always supported in the past, has become a party to . . . deception,” Levy Jonas said.
Emily’s List says that the email was an honest mistake sent only to a test audience of 5,000 people and that it immediately offered to send a correction.
In her letter, Levy Jonas touts Van Hollen’s credentials on women’s issues, saying he helped elect female candidates when he was chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is a close ally of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and has the backing of a co-chair of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y.).

Things are getting so out of hand that NARAL, hardly a group of shrinking violets, is scrambling (😜) to stay out of the crossfire.

Given the explicit organizational affiliation by our former board chair in a letter on behalf of Chris Van Hollen, we want to be clear that we had no knowledge of the letter prior to its dissemination,” NARAL President Ilyse Hogue said in a statement. “We feel lucky to have two solidly pro-choice legislators in this critically important race.”

That last bit is actually the takeaway for me. Both candidates have great records on choice and other issues. So EMILY’s List is making a mistake trying to demonize Chris Van Hollen on this basis. They’re free to support whoever they wish but it becomes very problematic when they start trashing a a candidate with such a pro-choice, pro-woman record and agenda. There was no chance that Chris Van Hollen could get endorsed by EMILY’s List (they only endorse women), but they’re treating him like a Republican – in the larger sense, it’s no accident that an email went out with that epithet in it, because that’s usually who EL is attacking. But they really, really ought to be more aware of who they’re dealing with here. It makes them no friends – it’s terrible coalition building to be attacking Van Hollen like this.

I’d go so far as to say they should have thought about all this before they endorsed Donna Edwards. But having done so, they’re not helping either their candidate or their larger purposes by acting in this manner. NARAL’s approach is the right one here, but I suspect that the rhetorical war between EMILY’s List and Chris Van Hollen is just getting started.

Two More Women For Van Hollen

Yawn. From the Sun:

Two Baltimore-area lawmakers — Dels. Shelly L. Hettleman and Brooke E. Lierman — have endorsed Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s campaign for Senate.

The two state lawmakers made the announcement at an event Thursday night organized by Democratic women supporting Van Hollen. The Montgomery County lawmaker is running against Rep. Donna F. Edwards for the Senate seat that will be left open in 2017 by Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s retirement.

Van Hollen To Hogan: Close The Gun Loophole

Press release tonight from the busy beavers at the Van Hollen press office:

Van Hollen Urges Hogan to Take Action to Close Terrorist Gun Loophole  

 Washington, DC – Today Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen sent a letter to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan urging him to explore executive action to protect Marylanders from gun violence and close the loophole that allows individuals on the FBI’s Terrorist Watchlist from purchasing deadly weapons.

 “Despite repeated efforts in Congress to prevent people on the FBI Terrorist Watchlist from buying guns, Republican leaders prevented us from even having a vote,” Congressman Van Hollen wrote. “While Tea Party obstructionism and the NRA keep Congress from moving forward to protect Americans from gun violence and terrorism, I call on you to explore every possible State action to prevent dangerous individuals from purchasing guns in Maryland.”

 He continued, “As Governor, your leadership can protect Maryland communities and our many high-profile assets like national security installations by prohibiting the transfer or sale of a firearm to anyone on the FBI Terrorist Watchlist.”

 Congressman Van Hollen has long supported efforts to prevent those on the terrorist watchlist from purchasing guns, fighting liability exemptions for gun dealers back in 2005 and consistently supporting legislation to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals. He also supports legislation to restore the ban on assault weapons.

 According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, since 2004, more than 2,000 suspects on the FBI’s Terrorist Watchlist have successfully purchased weapons in the United States. More than 90 percent of all suspected terrorists who attempted to purchase guns in the last 11 years walked away with the weapon they wanted, with just 190 rejected despite their ominous histories.   

And the letter itself:

Dear Governor Hogan,

 Gun violence and mass shootings plague our nation every day, and the horrific attacks in San Bernardino and Paris have renewed concerns about terrorism here and abroad. We should be doing everything possible to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of those who seek to kill innocent Americans.

 Despite repeated efforts in Congress to prevent people on the FBI Terrorist Watchlist from buying guns, Republican leaders prevented us from even having a vote. While Tea Party obstructionism and the NRA keep Congress from moving forward to protect Americans from gun violence and terrorism, I call on you to explore every possible State action to prevent dangerous individuals from purchasing guns in Maryland.

 Across the country, more than 2,000 suspects on the FBI Terrorist Watchlist were permitted to buy guns over the past 11 years. At the same time, gun violence continues to terrorize our communities on a daily basis, as those who seek firearms to carry out crime find them all too easy to obtain. As Governor, your leadership can protect Maryland communities and our many high-profile assets like national security installations by prohibiting the transfer or sale of a firearm to anyone on the FBI Terrorist Watchlist. In Connecticut, Governor Dan Malloy is pursuing executive action. In New Jersey, which has a permit-to-purchase program that is similar to Maryland’s, Governor Chris Christie signed a state law to prohibit persons on the FBI Terror Watchlist from receiving a gun permit. I urge you to work with your Administration and the State Legislature to enact similar protections for Maryland residents. 

 I will continue fighting in Congress for common sense gun safety measures that will protect every Marylander, including law-abiding gun owners, and I look forward to working with you in that effort. 

 Sincerely,

 Chris Van Hollen

 Member of Congress