Our Senator Chris Van Hollen joins us at MACO in Ocean City for a wide-ranging conversation about life in Washington and the potential and promise of The Red Line, Penn Station and the FBI headquarters coming to Maryland.
maryland, baltimore, state, senator cardin, federal, senator, inflation reduction, years, talking, resuscitating, investments, act, red line, joe biden, plague, prince george’s county, medicare program, chips, penn station, inflation
Nestor Aparicio, Chris Van Hollen
Nestor Aparicio 00:00
What about w n s t TAS Baltimore and Baltimore positive or positively at Mako and OSHA city got the sign behind your podcast row he’s to be radio guy. It’s all brought to you by the Maryland lottery 50th anniversary for the Maryland lottery 25th anniversary for us and our friends at window nation. 866 90 nation sending us on the road and keeping the windows up and down for my kitty cat as well. This guy’s defending champion he’s back on the program. Last time I had you on that wasn’t zoomy or mask stop or anything crazy. We were like pre plague having coffee and breakfast at state fair with Don molar. We welcome Senator Chris Van Hollen back onto the program and talking all things Mako. This is quite the gathering. I didn’t know what this was about till about two or three years ago. This is like the state Super Bowl man, right? This is amazing thing. Well,
Chris Van Hollen 00:48
Nestor, it’s great to be with you give my best to Don. And, look, this is kind of the Super Bowl of Maryland politics for for a couple days. Each year. It’s a little bit of a homecoming you see a lot of people that you’ve worked with over the years, certainly during the pandemic, where you only saw them on Zoom, you can see them also a chance to meet a lot of new people involved with government. But it’s not just folks from government, it’s people who are interested in policy issues throughout the state of Maryland. And they gather here they have a little fun and do a lot of work. And it’s time well spent? Well,
Nestor Aparicio 01:23
it is I mean, I There’s a spirit about it. And you know, maybe it’s because my side of the fence is sitting in Indianapolis now you feel better about it. And Governor more came by there is this sense, I don’t say bipartisan because I’m not on the other side to know the difference. But there is a spirit down here that people are trying to make the state better. And I think we’ve all lived through the plague now and since last time we got together, that it feels like things are getting better in our society just in general.
I think in general, that’s true, I think, you know, sadly, we are still incredibly in deeply polarized politically. And of course, you just have to turn on your TV set these days, to see that. You know, but But here in the state of Maryland, I think everybody is trying to row in the same direction trying to get stuff done. And I was just at a town hall meeting organized by my friend and colleague Ben Cardin, and we were talking about how we do work very closely together with all parts of our state, Eastern Shore, Western Maryland, Baltimore, Washington suburbs, to try to deliver and, and in the last three years in Congress, we actually, we I mean, we did a lot of great stuff, and a lot of things that are still in the pipeline that will help Maryland and the rest of the country
Nestor Aparicio 02:35
three years it feels you know, 2020 2024 Here we go. I’m all the list here from everything I talked to Senator Cardin about probably saying things that you inflation Reduction Act, science chips, Baltimore Peninsula is rolling all that, but um, Baltimore positive in the city, you go to DC on behalf of the whole state. But there’s such a focus on Baltimore and lifting Baltimore I just had, the mayor was in the seat five minutes before you are here. Tell me about to commitment to Baltimore, because it does feel different with West being in Annapolis different with Joe Biden being in Washington, and certainly different needs. I think everyone in the country rep understands that urban needs, our real needs. And we have to invest in
that. I think everybody in Maryland recognizes that, you know, Baltimore remains sort of the the beating and cultural heart and a key part of our economic livelihood for the rest of the state of Maryland. So if you don’t have a healthy Baltimore, you don’t have a healthy state of Maryland. So we have really focused on trying to invest resources in a number of critical areas in Baltimore, public safety. Senator Cardin, I just worked to get more US Attorney’s Office is something we’ve been working on for years, we’re going to deliver, I think five more US attorneys, more folks for the ATF, more US marshals. So across the board, when it comes to the federal partnership in Baltimore, as part of the public safety effort, you’re gonna see a greater, even greater federal presence. And when it comes to economic development, you know, I find myself in Baltimore, just about every week, when we’re not in session in Washington, announcing new investments that we’re making, to try to, you know, provide more job opportunities, and especially with young startup businesses,
Nestor Aparicio 04:18
transportation and the red line and a billion dollars that you all went down there and gotten brought back and was not used. Well, first, I’m sure that money’s gone, eight and a half years removed. But this new pile of money and how maybe hadn’t been done 10 years ago would have been done differently than maybe it’s been done now or the confidence level that you have that 10 years from now, former Senator Van Hollen will be sitting here saying we did it and I got on the train and we wrote it and people are taking it to jobs and schools. That that is a vision that I that you you and Senator Cardin had a long time ago.
We did indeed and and before I mentioned the red line and I’d We want to spend a moment on that. We’ve also gotten major investments in other parts of Baltimore’s transportation structure. So Penn Station, getting a total facelift, it’ll be a whole different place.
Nestor Aparicio 05:12
It was always a period piece to go into. Yeah. It felt like a scene out of like a Hitchcock movie from the 50s.
Yeah, but you know, it’s still gonna get a lot of this original character, but it’s going to be someplace that people want to spend time
Nestor Aparicio 05:23
on. Senator, you go to New York for things you’ve gotten out in Moynahan in New York at some point in the last couple of years. And we’re like, well, this isn’t Penn Station in New York anymore. I mean, nutrients per Do you feel that and you feel a sense of pride about that, that when you come into the city, you’re like, Oh, I’m in a place. Right,
exactly. And you know, you want to spend time there and you want to and that’ll bring more development around that area, the BMP tunnel, it’s going to be renamed the Frederick Douglass tunnel, this is going to reduce the train time, transit time from Union Station in DC, to Penn Station to about half an hour. That is that is going to, I think, change things for the better in both places, there’s going to be a lot more opportunities in Baltimore and more opportunities for people in the nation’s capitol. Red Line, as you said, the former governor kissed $1 billion in federal money goodbye when he shut down the red line, which had been a joint project by everyone else involved in politics in the state of Maryland and elected politics for a very long time, including my predecessor, Senator Mikulski, and then of course with Senator Cardin, Senator Cardin and I got a provision into the infrastructure bill, that said that projects that had previously been in line at the federal level, do not have to go to the back of the line, if a state wants to resuscitate it. It doesn’t mean they necessarily got to go to the front of the do over No, it’s not a do over but it said it says, Okay, let’s pick up where we left off in the process. Now, obviously, the alignment is going to have to be different. The people in Baltimore City will have to decide, you know, working with neighborhoods and with the you know, the state on that. But we are working Senator Cardin, I to try to make sure we do another run at federal funds. So we get that money and more back for the next round. And I do want to thank Governor Moore, for, you know, resuscitating this now that he’s governor,
Nestor Aparicio 07:26
well, I sat with Governor Hogan two years ago on the crabcake tour and Don molar was with me and said, you know, upset Why’d you kill it? And he said, I ran on killing it. That’s why I killed it. And I’m thinking, well, you, West ran on resuscitating and here we are. Chris Van Hollen, our senator from Maryland, here, ships science, I think, anyone during the plague, we realized, if you needed a car park, if you needed all of these things, seems fundamental that we would make all the things we need, and not turn things over and see made in Taiwan made in China made elsewhere. This is something that was long overdue, and something that sort of drifted during our lifetime of, well, that’s they make that in Asia, and we’ll buy that and they can do it cheaper, and labor and all those things, onboarding this in the United States to make us more self reliant, self sufficient. This is a fundamental thing that I think comes out of the plague, that maybe isn’t such a bad thing.
This is a good thing. And what we need more Made in America, and this is part of Made in America, and especially when it comes to these technologies that we rely on so deeply, you know, this semiconductor chips, that’s all based on us technology, a lot of the innovation done to develop these very advanced chips is was done in United States, but the manufacturing of these chips has gone offshore in many cases. And the chips Act is an effort to onshore to bring home the manufacturing of these really critical chips. Now we also have many allies around the world, who we we we can work with. And they also have a role in this process. But we do want to make sure that we’re not reliant on you know, countries like China, where you have increasing measures that they’ve taken to, you know, put themselves in an advantage economically, through unfair trade practices. And during the pandemic. We also saw that when you have those supply chains disrupted, you know, you can’t even get a car, right? Because everything now relies on these chips in one form or another right? So your dishwashers, your car’s advanced medical equipment, weaponry. So it’s really important that we we bring a lot of this manufacturing home, do you feel like we’re getting more help
Nestor Aparicio 09:39
internationally, maybe even in the aftermath of what happened on January 6, and I know you and I’ve talked about that at length, you were clearly in the middle of that. But seeing I don’t say sympathy for the United States, but understanding the importance of the United States in regard to sovereignty, you know, wherever sovereignty is still breathed. If not China, clearly not Saudi Arabia isn’t clearly not Russia and these places but other places saying, wow, you know, America Wow, that can we can close there, you know that, that that wasn’t good. And we need to make America so not just for us, but for other for our allies that want to make us stronger.
There’s no doubt. I mean, I think countries around the world watched January 6, with an incredible amount of fear, because you know, the United States. While we’re obviously not perfect, you know, we have been a model of democracy around the world and to see democracy attack the way it was, on January 6, absolutely sent a shockwave through other democracies around the world. I will say that, in addition to, you know, trying to make sure we preserve democracy at here at home, as an example, to others and support for others, what Joe Biden is done in terms of resuscitating the NATO alliance, has been extraordinary, because you had our former president, who was essentially saying he was prepared to walk away from NATO. Now you have Putin invading Ukraine. And the reality is that our NATO partners are very grateful for the role that President Biden is has has played in bringing us together to fight Putin’s aggression by supplying the people of Ukraine with what they need to defend their democracy.
Nestor Aparicio 11:22
I don’t want to make it fresh for you to because it’s so it’s probably Are you pissed about January? Is there a moment? I mean, I’m pissed about it. And I see the people like you that were in the building at the time and watching it all transplant. I get pretty angry about it. And I can’t imagine that you don’t want justice to be served in that way that if somebody when somebody does something to put you personally, in harm’s way with a lie, that you want to see justice, I think Americans good Americans want to see justice served.
I think Americans want to see justice served. I look, I mean, this was a direct attack on the Capitol. And yes, I was there was a direct attack on the people whose job it is to defend the Capitol. And we saw the Capitol Police, you know, doing everything they could, but you saw the mobs, you know, picking up, you know, sticks and other things to batter them to spray them. We had our you know, DC National Guard came in and they were there. But again, you had people trying to attack them. So I we do need justice, right? You’ve got a lot of, you know, folks who need to be held accountable for what they did. It’s one thing to engage in a peaceful process. It’s another thing altogether, to engage in mob violence against the capitol for the purpose of overturning the election. Right, we have to go back to why it was January 6, it was January 6, because they were counting the ballots from the electoral college. And so this was aimed directly at disrupting the democratic process and the transition, the peaceful transition of power to the next president. So yes, these were insurrectionists. And they do need to be held accountable. And of course, the person who orchestrated the whole thing was the former President Donald Trump, and now he’s under indictment in multiple places,
Nestor Aparicio 13:13
screaming about the FBI out to get him. I know you’ve done a lot to people in the FBI, the people who serve the FBI for generations through transitions, presidents, that Democrat Republican going back to Reagan and Clinton and the thought that the that we would try to undermine what that stands for that. And I know that that’s something that you that you’ve worked on in the Senate as well, yeah,
this gets me really angry. You know, our Republican colleagues who say they want to stand up for law enforcement are now threatening to defund the FBI to defund federal law enforcement. And it is a sign of just how lost they have become, that they’re trying to, you know, take out their political disagreements with, you know, certain individuals, by essentially defunding the men and women of the FBI. So we at the same time this is going on, we in Maryland, are working very hard to bring a new FBI headquarters to the state of Maryland, as you know, there are two sites in Prince George’s County, Maryland, one in Virginia. The ones in Maryland will both save the taxpayer dollars, a lot of money over a billion dollars compared to Virginia. There are a variety of reasons for that. Also, Prince George’s County, Maryland has been, you know, left behind when it comes to the Washington area when it comes to these very important federal office buildings and functions. So for many reasons, the FBI belongs in Maryland, we’re going to keep fighting for it. It’s ironic that we’re fighting to do that at the same time Republicans are trying to defund the well
Nestor Aparicio 14:53
being of Maryland or I don’t really think so much about those federal agencies like Social Security in West Baltimore or just driving to the Capitol center all my life down the freeway seen NSA, and you know, these federal things that Maryland be close to DC this the benefit as long as it’s not in Virginia, right.
You know, they
Nestor Aparicio 15:12
say it’s the football team.
So you know, they say in real estate Location, location, location, right, no doubt Maryland has benefited from its proximity to the nation’s capital when it comes to major federal investments. I mean, those include the ones you mentioned, includes the National Institutes of Health and includes the FDA, but Prince George’s County, despite its, you know, the fact that it it borders on the District of Columbia has really not gotten its fair share of these major federal office investments. Parts of Virginia have done very well, parts of Maryland have done very well. But this is why we think it’s important to make sure that we include Prince George’s County when we’re making these large federal investments
Nestor Aparicio 15:56
are Senator Chris Van Hollen, here, courtesy of our friends at the Maryland lottery winner nation. We’re Mako in Ocean City. It’s been a little while since Senator and I’ve gotten together. Not that we didn’t have inflation, the last time we got together we always do. By the house, he has 7% You know, all of this going on. Y’all went down there and said, We got to, you know, Joe Biden want this on his record was leftover from the plague and all the other issues we’ve had the war in Russia inflation Reduction Act, give me the Schoolhouse Rock on that, Senator.
So look, the inflation Reduction Act is really designed to target two areas and lower costs in two areas. The first is in health care, broadly, and specifically within the area of prescription drugs. In the in the inflation Reduction Act, we wanted to essentially lower the cost of prescription drugs across the board. Unfortunately, we were not able to get the votes to do that on a super broad basis. But we did take a very important first step when it comes to the Medicare program. So the Medicare program has been prohibited by law from negotiating drug prices with Big Pharma. Boy, that sounds like a fix I Fix It is right? No. So Big Pharma had written into federal law, the fact that Medicare could not negotiate on behalf of all its members for lower drug prices. So the taxpayer got screwed American taxpayer and seniors had to pay more. So finally, we are given we’ve given the Medicare program the authority to negotiate lower drug prices, we also kept insulin for folks on Medicare, thank
Nestor Aparicio 17:33
you, my wife, thank you very much. My wife needs insulin, the rest of her life to live
and now but here, we are now worried about a do, we have to do this across the board beyond the Medicare program. But this was a very important first step. The other thing is a major investment in clean energy. You know, we’re here in Ocean City, Maryland is going to become a huge offshore capital of for the country. And a lot of the turbines are going to be manufactured at Sparrows Point, the old Sparrows Point Oh, come on, right there. So it’s a this is this is a great moment where you’re going to see clean energy generating manufacturing jobs, down at Sparrows Point now Tradepoint Atlantic, and going to generate 10,000 good paying jobs. crabcakes. It costs after work? There you go. So you know, what’s not to like about this. And I will say that those, that Maryland, offshore wind is going to be made possible by the tax incentives in the inflation Reduction Act. And that act also includes other stuff that’s going to help homeowners I worked very hard on a bill that I included in it. So if you want to make your home more energy efficient, you can save over $700 a year on average, the big impediment for people getting their home more energy efficient, have the upfront costs, right, you got to put in insulation, you may have to bring in higher end, you know, heating system, air conditioning system, higher windows, window nation, right. All right, and Windows from Windows. So So my point is that upfront cost is a big disincentive for some people. So we’re going to provide upfront grants rebates to individual homeowners to help cover those costs. And then they’ll be able to do it and save even more money over time.
Nestor Aparicio 19:21
Homeownership is the heart of the American dream, right? Literally, right?
It is indeed. And what we’re trying to do is make sure that, you know, people can have their homes have healthy homes, and also have the benefits of energy efficiency, so they don’t have to pay huge electric bills.
Nestor Aparicio 19:38
All right. I don’t want to get overtly political. But you’re always running for office. Everyone. You know, it’s part of being here. Senator Cardin came by the landscape of the state and the responsibility of if Wes does a good job if you guys do good, that you that this will stay democratic to some degree. I’m down. I’ve had more Republicans and Democrats on the show this week, believe it or not being down here. Hear the Eastern Shore and other places. And I do like hearing, you know what JP Jennings said to me last night or what, you know, cornbread stopped by here, Carl Anderson. So So hearing the other side and trying to figure out where the end of Trumpism is, and where the last election and I saw Kelly Schultz The other night as well. And I saw Barry Glassman, as well. And, uh, you know, it’s all Brooke Lieberman, what we saw in this state, trending purpley trending red with a red governor in a blue state to look for eight years, the future next couple years, I mean, it’s incumbent upon all of the Democrats to do a good job to make sure that whatever Senator card is gonna go, he told me, he’s gonna enjoy himself, and but whoever your counterpart could be at that point, that it’s a party race at this point, right, literally?
Well, yeah, let me just let me just say, Nestor, as you said, we’re here in Ocean City. And there are lots of areas where we work closely with our fellow with Republicans in the state of Maryland to advance or issues that are important to our state. And we do that on Capitol Hill when it comes to issues that are important to Maryland. I don’t know if you’ve been talking about blue catfish on your show recently. At length, okay, so so, you know, blue catfish that brings Republicans that brings the reds and the blues together in terms of demonstrating the same crowd. There we go. So look, there, there are a lot of things that we are working on together in the state of Maryland. But there have been big differences over time. Look, we talked about the red line from Baltimore, right? I mean, the previous governor pulled the plug on that in a billion dollars. And it’s not just the billion dollars, it’s connecting people with the ability to get to work on time to get to the neighborhoods they need to be in to see people they need to see and do it in an affordable way. So look, yes, Democrats have to deliver. One of the things Ben Cardin and I have been very focused on is trying to make sure that the benefits of these major federal investments, infrastructure bill, chips and science act, inflation Reduction Act, that Marylanders will benefit. And they are if we’re talking about here in Mako, people are coming up to me, Republicans and Democrats, they all are benefiting from the
Nestor Aparicio 22:10
investments that were made from washing.
It’s right. And you know, the the wild thing about this, like the inflation Reduction Act, we a lot of this stuff, we did pass on a bipartisan basis in Washington, even the inflation Reduction Act, we did not we did not have a single Republican support. And yet, if you’re watching these investments in clean energy around the country, a lot of them are going to red states. And they’re not turning back the money nest or they’re not saying no, take that money, take your clean energy and go home. They say the more the better for all of us. So look, this, this is I think what you know, delivering looks like and the reality is that the economy is doing very well, yes, inflation was running very high. Inflation is now coming down, it was 9%. It’s now about 3%. We need to get it lower, but it’s heading in the right direction. Unemployment, unemployment is at a 50 year low. People are now seeing real wages going up, meaning their pay is going up faster than inflation. So they’re pocketing more money in real terms. We got to keep it going. You know, it doesn’t just happen by accident. And so these policies, in my view, are working. We’ve worked very closely with Joe Biden to get it done. But you’re right, we got it. We got to keep, keep delivering. It’s always you know, what’s gonna happen tomorrow, not what happened yesterday,
Nestor Aparicio 23:32
I got to ask you this sort of flippantly but you know, I’m wearing orange and I’m an Oreo guy and you’re down in Kensington and you can have mixed emotions about baseball. Is there any chance in the world that the Baltimore Orioles or any sports owner could get federal money
to a lot you know, first of all go oh, I’m a huge Joe’s fan. I even had the chance to throw out the first pitch a couple years ago and that was it. Do you know what you know seriously? could check the video man maybe it was luck, but it went right over the plate. I actually Little League I did. I did play a pitcher in little league. But it was a long time ago. You know, when you’re throwing out a ball in the corner Oreos game you you do I can’t throw a party you did? You do go in the backyard and try and you know, get down. They didn’t they would let me from the
Nestor Aparicio 24:18
parents. Everybody says you throw from the mountain you’ll screw it up anyway.
Who knows? But, look, I mean, those are having a really good season. We’re very proud of them. And, you know, there’s obviously a lot of discussion now around development in the in the Oriole stadium and in yards. The state legislatures obviously weren’t working on that piece. You know, I’m talking to talk to my colleagues about that. So, but, you know, look, we got it, we got a great team in the Orioles. And, you know, I know they’re going
Nestor Aparicio 24:52
to Well, that would be a heck of a project to think that federal money would come out ya know,
so in terms of federal money i i don’t know of any fact. Don’t monies that are coming.
Nestor Aparicio 25:02
Fair enough. I saw on the record I need to ask you about that. crabcakes Is there a good crabcake montgomery county? Coco’s right. We are going to Coco see. He knows you want to crabcake even guys in the DC suburbs, you gotta come up the beltway for that, you know, so we’ll get you to Coco’s always appreciation for your time senator, thanks for coming. Good to be with you always in good spirits when you come by and you’re very patient with me not
just talk about we’re talking pretty fast and we don’t even have coffee this time. What’s going on?
Nestor Aparicio 25:30
Card gives me a hard time but that’s
kind of what rural farms I’m we’re a farm sponsored. So they they fire me up with the coffee, did you? Well, I’m actually you know, I did stop at Royal farms to pick up my coffee on the way to Berlin, Maryland, even in Berlin. I had been through Berlin a great town. So I was I was there was the fire station. Speaking of federal investments, we got $400,000 to help them get a new set of what they’re they’re called Air packs, right. Yeah. When you go into a fire and the buildings filled with smoke, you obviously need to have an air pack on you. And so there’s were some of them are as old as 30 years old, but we just got $4,000 for the Berlin Fire Department. So that helped them out thank and thank them really for what they do to to help protect all of us. I had cornbread,
Nestor Aparicio 26:12
Carl Anderton, the Honorable on the show, and we were talking about how you could possibly get a bad piece of chicken at Royal farms on 50. Between like Cambridge and Ocean City, when you know like you’re driving past to Purdue plant. You’re thinking, Man, I want some chicken and there’s absolutely rural farms there. So
there’s a lot of chicken on the Eastern Shore out about.
Nestor Aparicio 26:32
Here’s our Senator Chris Van Hollen joining us here we’re Mako and Ocean City saw brought to you by the Maryland lottery window nation. We’re back for more from the beach, although I haven’t seen the sand yet. in Ocean City. Stay with us at Baltimore positive