Christopher "Chris" Van Hollen, Jr. (born January 10, 1959) is the U.S. Representative for Maryland's 8th congressional district, serving since 2003. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district includes most of Montgomery County, an affluent suburban county adjacent to Washington, D.C., as well as parts of Prince George's County, another Washington suburb.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi created a new leadership post, Assistant to the Speaker, in 2006 so that Van Hollen could be present at all leadership meetings. After the Democrats regained control of the House in the 2006 elections, Van Hollen became the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the fifth-ranking position among House Democrats. In this post, Van Hollen was responsible for leading efforts to get more Democrats elected to Congress.
After the Democratic losses in 2010, Van Hollen did not run for re-election to chair of the DCCC.
Van Hollen instead chose to run for the top Democratic spot on the House Budget Committee, which was being vacated by outgoing chairman John Spratt who had been defeated for re-election. Van Hollen was elected as the ranking member on the Budget Committee on November 17, 2010. Pelosi appointed him to the 12-member bipartisan Committee on Deficit Reduction with a mandate for finding major budget reductions by late 2011.
Early life, education and career
The oldest of three children, Van Hollen was born in Karachi, Pakistan, to Christopher and Eliza Van Hollen. His father was a Foreign Service officer who served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (1969–72) and U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka (1972–76); and his mother worked in the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department, where she served as chief of the intelligence bureau for South Asia.
He also lived in Turkey, India, and Sri Lanka. He returned to the United States for his junior year of high school, and attended the Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts, where his grandfather once taught.
In 1982, Van Hollen graduated from Swarthmore College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy. He continued his studies at Harvard University, where he earned a Master of Public Policy degree, concentrating in national security studies, from the John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1985.
Early political career
Van Hollen worked as a legislative assistant for defense and foreign policy to U.S. Senator Charles Mathias, a Republican from Maryland, from 1985 to 1987.
He was also a staff member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (1987–89), and a legislative advisor for federal affairs to Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer (1989–91). He earned a Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1990. He was admitted to the Maryland bar in 1990, and joined the law firm of Arent Fox.
Van Hollen served in the Maryland General Assembly from 1991 to 2003, first in the House of Delegates (1991–95) and then in the State Senate (1995–2003). In the Senate, he served on the Budget and Taxation Committee and the Health and Human Services Subcommittee. The Washington Post called Van Hollen "one of the most accomplished members of the General Assembly."
He led successful efforts to raise the tobacco tax, prohibit oil drilling in the Chesapeake Bay, mandate trigger locks for guns, and increase funding for education and healthcare. In 2002,
U.S. House of Representatives
Maryland's 8th District hugs the northern border of Washington, D.C. and is one of the most educated and wealthy congressional districts in the nation. The federal government is the largest single employer in the district, and many private companies are funded by the government.
In 2003, Van Hollen was named Outstanding New Member of the Year by the Committee for Education Funding, the nation's largest and oldest non-partisan education coalition.
The first bill Van Hollen introduces every session is the Keep Our Promise to America's Children and Teachers (PACT) Act, which would fully fund No Child Left Behind and IDEA. He also introduced an amendment, which passed, that repealed a 9.5 percent loophole in student loans that had allowed lenders to pocket billions of taxpayer dollars. Now, that money is available for additional student loans.
Because many federal employees live in his district, Van Hollen has worked on a number of issues relating to them. He supported pay parity in pay raises for civilian employees and introduced an amendment, which passed, to block attempts to outsource federal jobs.
Van Hollen has secured federal funding for a number of local-interest projects, including transportation initiatives, local homeland security efforts, education programs and community development projects. Van Hollen has been a strong supporter of Palestinian Statehood throughout his career in Congress.
Van Hollen often joins his colleague, Adam Schiff (CA-29), to discuss issues of National Security on the floor of the House, with particular commentary on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In May 2006, Van Hollen formed a Congressional Caucus on the Netherlands with Dutch-born Republican representative Pete Hoekstra. The goal of the caucus is to promote the U.S. relationship with the Netherlands and remember the Dutch role in establishing New York and the United States.
In July 2006, Van Hollen urged the Bush administration to support a ceasefire supported by a peacekeeping force that would end the Israeli-Lebanon War. He was heavily criticized by the Jewish and pro-Israel community, a large part of his constituency. According to the Washington Jewish Week, Van Hollen clarified but did not retract his position.
In 2006, Van Hollen opted out of the race to succeed the retiring Senator Paul Sarbanes, saying he would rather spend time with his family and help elect more Democrats to Congress. In keeping with that, Van Hollen was appointed the Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
In 2009, Van Hollen introduced a bill which establishes a Green Bank to catalyze the financing of clean energy and energy efficiency projects.
In March 2010, when Charles Rangel was forced to resign as Chairman of Ways and Means over ethics charges, Van Hollen played a key role in having Sander Levin succeed to the Chairmanship over Pete Stark. Stark was the second-most experienced member of the committee while Levin was third, and party tradition would have made Stark chairman due to seniority. However, Van Hollen and other younger members saw Stark's past intemperate comments as a liability to the Democrats in an election year.
On April 29, 2010, Van Hollen introduced the campaign finance DISCLOSE Act.
Van Hollen and his wife Katherine live in the town of Kensington with their three children: Anna, Nicholas, and Alexander.
November 22nd, 2011