Chris Von Hollen.
How can you be an effective representative given the gridlock in the House?
I have worked to represent the values of our community, although there is more to be done to achieve our shared goals: good-paying jobs, a strong education system, a healthy environment, 21st century infrastructure, investments in scientific research, an efficient and reliable safety net, and a balanced approach to deficit reduction. To accomplish these goals, I seek common ground with my Republican colleagues where possible, but where our differences are insurmountable, I have a responsibility to clearly define the competing choices. I worked successfully across the aisle in the bipartisan budget negotiations to prevent the impending sequester and another government shutdown and co-authored successful bipartisan legislation to strengthen whistleblower protections and fight childhood cancer. I have worked with regional partners in both parties on Metro funding, BRAC, and gang prevention. However, when the Speaker refuses to allow votes on key national priorities, we must engage the public to enact change.
Briefly describe your environmental policy.
We have a responsibility to protect our natural resources for future generations. Climate change presents enormous challenges and an important opportunity. By investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency, we can confront climate change while creating jobs here at home.
In Maryland, we must protect the Chesapeake Bay. As a Co-Chair of the Congressional Chesapeake Bay Watershed Caucus, I’ve fought succesfully for federal support for clean-up efforts, including assistance for farmers to address nutrient runoff.
Finally, we have a responsibility to protect and improve existing environmental law. I have fought against repeated attempts in the Congress to repeal critical protections for air, water, and public spaces. We must also pass chemical safety reform that includes scientifically-based safety standards to protect vulnerable populations and requires timely completion of new chemical safety assessments. Federal law must provide a reasonable floor to protect public health.
Briefly describe your energy policy.
We need to implement a energy policy that boosts job growth, increases energy independence, and addresses climate change. This requires strong incentives for clean energy and energy efficiency combined with polluter pay requirements. I’ve introduced legislation to create a Green Bank to invest in cutting-edge energy technologies, supporting new industries and creating jobs. Additionally, I support regulatory and state-based efforts like the new proposed federal carbon pollution standard and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and will continue to look for opportunities to pass comprehensive legislation similar to the Cap and Dividend bill which I have introduced in past Congresses.
Finally, we need to a national policy to properly regulate fracking in those states that decide to use it. I am a cosponsor of several bills to close loopholes in the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and increase transparency, including the FRAC Act, the BREATE Act, and the FRESHER Act.
Briefly describe your jobs policy.
In my role as the top Democrat on the Budget Committee, I introduced a budget that would close corporate tax loopholes that encourage companies to ship jobs overseas and reinvest those savings in infrastructure projects, education, and research to keep America at the cutting edge of innovation. I also support President Obama’s American Jobs Act proposal, which includes incentives for private companies to hire, funding to rebuild and rehabilitate essential infrastructure, and assistance to states and localities to keep teachers and first responders on the job in our community.
What is your position on a national living wage?
Our current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour makes it difficult to support a family while working a full-time job. This is unacceptable – if you play by the rules and work hard, you should be able to make ends meet. I supported the successful efforts to raise the minimum wage in Montgomery County and Maryland, and am a cosponsor of the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour over three years and index it to inflation after that.
What is your position on the economic safety net?
While I believe the best way to lift people out of poverty is to advance policies to create good-paying jobs, it is essential that we have a strong safety net for Americans who hit hard times through no fault of their own. Federal programs such as unemployment insurance, SNAP, and Medicaid help struggling families put food on the table and access health care, and I’ll work to preserve and improve these programs for those who need them. Finally, I fully support Social Security and Medicare. Many seniors rely on Social Security as their primary source of income and I’ll work to ensure the program continues to provide seniors with the same stability it has for the past 78 years.
What is your position on the role of drone technology in national security?
I support the White House’s recent shift in policy to curb drone strikes abroad as part of our anti-terrorism efforts and believe that any use of drones by the United States must be done so in accordance with international law. It is also imperative that the U.S. takes all precautions available, including the review of proposed strikes at the highest levels of government, to avoid any civilian casualties when deploying drones for reasons of national security.
What is your position on surveillance of U.S. citizens?
While we must have appropriate tools and technologies to protect our national security, we must not infringe on the very freedoms we seek to protect. I consistently opposed long-term extensions of the so-called PATRIOT Act and recently voted for the USA Freedom Act to end the government’s bulk collection of phone metadata and other tangible records through the use of Section 215, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) pen registers, and National Security letters. However, I still have serious concerns about Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, and will continue to work with my colleagues to strengthen our privacy laws. For example, I introduced a bipartisan bill to establish an Office of the Constitutional Advocate to represent individual privacy interests in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court proceedings and advocate for the minimization of the scope of any requested surveillance.
If you could enact a single change for the United States, what would it be?
I don’t believe there is a single change that would enable us to reach our many shared goals – closing the opportunity gap to ensure broadly-shared prosperity, reforming our broken immigration system, improving education, enacting sensible background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, and other priorities. However, I do believe that the prospects for progress on all these fronts would be improved by reforming our campaign finance system, which currently gives too much influence to corporations and special interests over ordinary citizens. I introduced the DISCLOSE Act to allow the American people to know what special interests fund ads that are designed to influence their votes. I also support the Government By the People Act and the Empowering Citizens Act to overhaul our system of campaign finance to strengthen the voice of citizens and curb the power of monied special interests.
Please list endorsements.
The Gazette Newspaper
The National Education Association
The Sierra Club
Please provide contact information and social media links.