CONGRESSMAN CHRIS VAN HOLLEN
Maryland’s 8th District
For Immediate Release
November 15, 2016
Van Hollen Discusses Trump, Working in the Senate on Fox 5
– Today Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen joined Fox 5’s Steve Chenevey and Allison Seymour to discuss President-elect Trump and the possible ways to move Maryland forward in the U.S. Senate. Video of the interview is available here, and a transcript is below:
STEVE CHENEVEY, WTTG: Joining us this morning, newly elected Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen. It’s good to see you once again, thanks for joining us. Congratulations on the outcome of the election – now as Senator-elect Van Hollen.
You know, we’ve talked to you many times and you have already been lauded by people on both sides of the aisle as somebody who can work with a divided Congress. This however maybe the most divided that we have seen in recent times.
So what challenges do you have now as somebody who I think a lot of people look to as taking the lead to work across party lines?
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Well I do hope to have that opportunity because we have a lot of work to do in this country. You know, there’s been a lot of talk about the need to modernize our national infrastructure. That seems to be an area where we can find common ground.
The problem is that the President-elect has to lead by example. He ran a very divisive, very ugly campaign. He now is calling upon people to come together – that’s what he’s saying through his words. But people are also watching his deeds. So when he appoints someone like Steve Bannon to this high post in the White House, just a short distance from the Oval Office, that creates a lot of anxiety. That is very troubling to have this guy who had what was called the alt-right website, sort of a white nationalist website. So, I really urge Donald Trump to send assurances, not just through his words. It’s easy to look into a TV camera and say something, but there was action – and that action really is very troubling.
ALLISON SEYMOUR, WTTG: And yet the country squarely looks like a red map, even the state of Maryland, who we think of more of a blue state, was divided as well. What message got across to voters that they agreed with – in spite of some of the more concerning people that Donald Trump surrounds himself with, and his rhetoric quite frankly.
VAN HOLLEN: Well look, I think when it comes to the issue of lost manufacturing jobs in this country, people can talk about it intellectually. But I don’t think people have identified with the deep economic pain it has caused in so many of our communities.
What troubled me about the approach of Donald Trump is that he would go into some of these communities and he didn’t put a lot of ideas on the table. But he said to people, your economic pain is a result of other people who look differently than you, or things like that. So, if we want to focus on actual policies that can help change things, then we welcome this opportunity. But if we’re going to continue down a divisive path that Steve Bannon’s appointment suggests, then we’ve got a real problem.
So, this is really an important moment for Donald Trump again to send a signal not just by what he says, but through his actions.
CHENEVEY: I know it’s hard to kind of define how you approach this situation, when you don’t know yet who else will be in these positions and which policies will be kind of chased down the road by this Administration. But no matter what it is and no matter who is in what cabinet position or advisory position, you still have to work them and you still have to work in the Senate now. As a newcomer to the Senate, how do you approach that as saying, look we still have to get something done here?
VAN HOLLEN: Well that’s right. And I know a number of the Republican Senators, some of them were colleagues of mine in the House of Representatives years ago. We’ve been corresponding since the election. People do want to find a way to come together. There’s a hunger in the country to get things done. There’s been too much obstruction.
So we’re going to look for those opportunities. But it’s really important as we do that, that the President-elect send a message from the White House that it’s not just the divisive rhetoric of the campaign that’s behind us, but that he’s going to lead by example. And that’s why this appointment was so troubling.
SEYMOUR: Do you think the President-elect will have a better time of getting some things passed, because with the President now, you have a Republican Congress and it fought with each other on a lot of things and things were sort of blocked right at the gate. Do you think that this President will be able to get some of those infrastructure things passed through, jobs passed through, a little bit easier?
VAN HOLLEN: Well let’s see. Again, we want to work with Donald Trump on the areas where there’s common ground. Modernizing our national infrastructure — we know around this area how important it is. It’s not just roads and bridges and transit ways, but also broadband, clean energy platforms – there’s a lot we need to do to bring our infrastructure into the 21st century, and also put people to work with good paying jobs.
So look, I’ve put forward proposals in the past to help address that issue. I would welcome the opportunity to work on those particular issues, and the others issues where there’s common ground.
Where there’s an effort to try to turn back the clock on some of these other important national values, then he’s going to get the fight of his life. That’s the way it goes. But where we can identify those common areas, there’s possibility.
CHENEVEY: And your take on the Democratic Party right now. Is it solid in Congress? Is it fractured in Congress? Is it a feeling of now we need to be more together than ever because of the makeup of Congress now?
VAN HOLLEN: Look, I think there are 2 things. Number one, Democrats are obviously going to have to take a look exactly what happened in this campaign around the country. Address, obviously, some of the shortcomings. Also remember though, Hillary Clinton did get a majority of the popular vote. So more people voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump. And it’s also important that the incoming President remember that, and that’s partly why it’s so important to take actions that bring us together.
So Democrats are certainly going to be looking at exactly what happened here. As I said, I think it’s really important that we do a better job of identifying with the economic pain in many areas of our state. In Maryland, in the rural areas, you’ve got a lot of economic pain, you’ve got a lot of kids who don’t see a future for themselves. In those areas we’ve got to find ways to address those issues.
In my campaign in Maryland, I worked very hard to get all over the state – not just areas that were traditionally Democratic areas, but also Republican areas because it is really important that we are all talking to one another. And if we are not talking to one another, then it’s going to be impossible, obviously, to find ways to move forward.
SEYMOUR: Thanks for coming in, hopefully you’ll continue to be here over the next few years. Congratulations on your win.
VAN HOLLEN: I am happy to. Thank you.