My highest priority is to bring more jobs to Maryland and maintain the jobs that we have. Too many Marylanders are still struggling through no fault of their own. I regularly work around the partisan gridlock to support initiatives that will help jumpstart our economy. I agree with President Obama that our economy must be fair and work for everyone. I believe that we can get more Americans working and grow our middle class again by investing in America. The federal government has a responsibility to invest in programs that help boost job creation while protecting our most vulnerable citizens. Working Americans rely less on government services, buy more – which helps the economy – and pay taxes, lowering the financial burden for all.
Especially during difficult economic times, our goal should be retirement security for all so that our seniors have access to services they need to live independently for as long as possible with access to quality, affordable health care. I oppose legislative or administrative proposals that would seek to balance our budget on the backs of our seniors. I especially will fight back against attempts to privatize Social Security and dismantle Medicare. Seniors have paid into these programs for their entire working lives and they have earned their benefits. I fought for historic health care reforms that helped extend the life of Medicare, cut co-payments for preventive services, provide free annual wellness checkups for seniors, and reduce the cost of prescriptions.
Congress has no greater advocate for the Chesapeake Bay restoration. I strongly support Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts being coordinated by the EPA. I am the author of S. 1816, The Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Protection Act, called by many the most sweeping legislation to restore the health of the Bay since the enactment of the Clean Water Act 40 years ago. A clean, vibrant Bay will regain its rightful position as the economic, ecological, historic and cultural heart of Maryland and the entire mid-Atlantic region. If we can restore the health of our water ways and water systems, our nation’s economic health will be strong too. I will continue my leadership role in protecting the Chesapeake Bay because every American should enjoy the freedom and good health of clean, safe water.
I am proud that affordable, quality health care is now a right and not a privilege for all Americans. The Affordable Care Act, enacted by Congress last year with my strong support, moves us significantly closer to our goals of lowering costs, providing coverage to all Americans and reducing our budget deficit. I authored provisions in the law that guarantee children’s dental care, expand preventive services for seniors and establish the Minority Health Institute at NIH. We acted to stop the abusive practices of private insurance companies, expand health care in underserved communities, and make health insurance more affordable. I will continue to fight efforts to rollback health care reform, especially those provisions that already are helping American families and small businesses.
A vibrant transportation infrastructure promotes and sustains economic growth which in turn creates jobs and supports local business. I will continue to work to fund public transportation initiatives that help ease congestion, cut air pollution and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. I have been a champion for expanding public investment in mass transit, including Metro, MARC and Amtrak. We also must keep Marylanders safe by prioritizing the repair of existing transportation infrastructure, including highways and bridges. I was proud to secure over $100 million in federal funds for road and transit upgrades for communities straining to absorb up to 60,000 new jobs due to BRAC.
We have a moral obligation to provide all children access to the best education possible. At stake is their future and that of our nation. I am proud that Maryland consistently has the best education in the country, but we must achieve quality results across all school districts and in every school. We must support not only our students, but also our teachers, principals and schools districts to ensure that every school has the resources necessary to succeed. I am committed to investing in early education, teacher and principal training, science and math education, literacy and drop-out prevention programs, and college aid. All children also deserve a safe learning environment, which is why I have support legislation to prevent bullying and prohibit discrimination in schools.
I have been a supporter of women and women’s rights on every level, focusing on healthcare, financial security, education and job training. I continue to be a strong supporter of Roe v. Wade and will fight any attempts to chip away at a woman’s fundamental right of privacy and freedom to choose. I have been a consistent champion for equal protections under the law for women and men and have sought to bring down the invisible barriers that have been put in place to stop women from obtaining equal pay and equal advancement.
A strong economy and clean environment go hand-in-hand. I support a comprehensive energy bill that will help protect the environment from harmful pollution, as well as put an end to our nation’s reliance on foreign oil, create jobs, and improve national security. I was an original cosponsor of comprehensive legislation that would promote major job growth in America’s new energy future while at the same time dramatically reducing destructive air pollution that threatens the globe.
Small businesses are always the driving force behind job creation in America and their health is directly connected to the health of our economy. Small businesses account for more than 97 percent of Maryland’s employers and I will continue to support federal initiatives that help them prosper and grow. I have successfully fought to increase the budget for the Small Business Administration so that we can get credit to qualified small businesses to expand and hire more workers. Through health care reform, we provided tax credits so more small businesses could afford health coverage. I have made it a priority to ensure that federal agencies meet or exceed goals for small business contracts.
Every day, we celebrate the excellence and dedication to country of the brave men and women who stand on the frontlines overseas and here at home to help keep every American safe and secure. We have a solemn obligation to support the physical and mental health and welfare of our troops. I will continue to fight to provide them with the tools they need to do their job on behalf of the American people. I was a proud sponsor of the New GI Bill that modernized educational benefits for post-9/11 veterans. I continue to work to ensure that counseling and support mechanisms are in place for service members and families.
Protecting civil rights and civil liberties is essential to providing every American an equal opportunity to live their American Dream. I have always sought to find the balance between individual rights and national security. I am the lead author of the End Racial Profiling Act, which would ban racial profiling by law enforcement. As a former member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I chaired the first oversight hearing for the Obama Civil Rights Division, played an active role in passage of the law to prevent hate crimes and cosponsored the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I am cosponsoring of the Respect for Marriage Act to repeal DOMA and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.” I supported the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and I am leading the current fight to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. I have long championed legislation to outlaw deceptive practices that target voters with intentionally false information.
After voting against sending our troops to Iraq in 2003 when I was in the House of Representatives, and years of calling for a new and more thoughtful approach, it was heartening to welcome home the last American combat troops last year. I also am pleased that the Obama Administration is listening to me and others who have urged a faster departure of US troops from Afghanistan where they have been asked to fulfill a role better left to the Afghans.
Israel has been America’s strongest ally in the Middle East and the United States will continue to stand with Israel. Iran is not only a threat to Israel but to the entire Middle East region. The United States must continue to lead the international effort to isolate Iran until it gives up its ambition to be a nuclear weapons state. As part of a larger agenda of promoting human rights around the globe, I have led the bipartisan fight for transparency in oil, gas and mining industries; worked to raise awareness of the escalation of all forms of intolerance; and helped make gender equity a priority in our diplomacy and development.
Americans deserve the opportunity to build secure retirement savings; far too many hard-working individuals are left with serious questions about their future economic security. I have been a champion for retirees throughout my career, supporting legislation that allows seniors to live more securely, more independently and more productively. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, I will continue to ensure that our seniors can depend on strong, solvent Social Security and Medicare programs, as well as find confidence in the IRAs and 401k plans. I also look forward to reauthorizing the Older Americans Act, which expresses our nation’s commitment to protecting our seniors.
Civil servants are hard-working men and women on the front lines keeping America safe and healthy. In Maryland, these proud individuals are helping keep our food safe at the FDA; finding cures for cancer, diabetes and other diseases at the NIH; keeping us safe from bioterrorism at Ft. Detrick and cyberterrorism at NSA; helping our seniors at Social Security and much more. These are important jobs that need to be performed by public servants, not hired companies that would increase the cost to tax-payers. Hard-working federal employees have already contributed to deficit reduction and stand ready to participate in a credible, balanced approach to deal with our budget deficit. They made a $60 billion contribution to deficit reduction through the current two-year pay freeze and they continue to be asked to do more for the American people with fewer resources. I will continue to defend against those lawmakers who have decided to target federal workers as scapegoats for our fiscal mess.
I have a strong record of accomplishment and successful track record of working across party lines to get things done for Marylanders. I still believe that we can come together to find common ground on many issues that impact our nation, especially our economy.