The implications of upcoming elections made themselves known in Chestertown.
On Oct. 26, U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-MD, visited the Washington College Hodson Boathouse to lead a discussion about his political policy, the responsibilities he faces as a senator, and the importance of the upcoming elections.
After a brief tour of the newly constructed boathouse, Van Hollen spoke to a classroom of students, faculty, and community members about various issues facing the country.
Van Hollen said he takes what he hears from his constituents and compares it to his beliefs and what he campaigned on.
“Bottom line: listen to everybody, listen to all sides,” he said. “I try to exercise my best judgement.”
Van Hollen, a chairman on the Democratic Senatorial Committee, spoke about the upcoming midterm election to his younger audience.
“That means it’s my responsibility to try to elect Democratic senators to the United States Senate,” he said.
Van Hollen said there are 34 senatorial seats and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives facing election this year.
“The House is more susceptible to wave elections,” Van Hollen said.
According to Van Hollen, the upcoming midterm election will probably be the most consequential during his lifetime, in terms of checks and balances.
Van Hollen then discussed wage growth across the country.
“People will be surprised to learn that real wage growth in the last two years was actually lower than real wage growth in the two years before this administration,” he said.
According to Van Hollen, while wages have been increasing, the cost of living has been increasing at a faster rate.
“When people say they feel like they’re not getting ahead, it’s because they’re not getting ahead. They’re sort of running in place,” he said.
Student debt is another issue that Van Hollen is focused on. He is currently working on a number of bills intended to help college graduates, including a bill to allow students to refinance their loans and a bill that would impose more favorable terms for students accepting loans in the future.
Van Hollen also served in the state legislature, where he worked to prevent slant oil drilling in the Chesapeake Bay.
Van Hollen said the Bay remains a priority of his during his time in Congress.
Van Hollen claimed that in the first budget proposal of the current administration, the federal Chesapeake Bay Program would have been wiped out completely if it were not for his efforts and others who opposed it.
According to Van Hollen, other areas he is working on include immigration reform, the opioid crisis, childhood cancer research, climate change, disabilities, minimum wage, and criminal justice reform.
“So a lot to do,” Van Hollen said. “And the key, of course, is to get the votes so you can have the majority to get it done.”