Chris Van Hollen

Chris Van Hollen
Chris Van Hollen
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 8th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2003
Preceded by Connie Morella
Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Preceded by Paul D. Ryan
Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
In office
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Rahm Emanuel
Succeeded by Steve Israel
Personal details
Born January 10, 1959 (1959-01-10) (age 52)
Karachi, Pakistan
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Katherine Van Hollen
Children Anna Van Hollen
Nicholas Van Hollen
Alexander Van Hollen
Residence Kensington, Maryland
Alma mater Georgetown University Law Center (J.D.)
Harvard University (M.P.P.)
Swarthmore College (B.A.)
Occupation Attorney
Religion Episcopalian

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.[1][2] He also lived in Turkey, India, and Sri Lanka.[1] 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.[1]

In 1982, Van Hollen graduated from Swarthmore College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy.[3] 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.[3]

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.[4] 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).[4] He earned a Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1990.[3] He was admitted to the Maryland bar in 1990, and joined the law firm of Arent Fox.[5]

Maryland Legislature

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).[3] In the Senate, he served on the Budget and Taxation Committee and the Health and Human Services Subcommittee. 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.[1] In 2002, The Washington Post called Van Hollen "one of the most accomplished members of the General Assembly."[6]

U.S. House of Representatives

Congressman Van Hollen joins Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson (at the podium and to the left of Van Hollen) for the announcement of the County’s Legislative Agenda for 2005.

Committee assignments

Party leadership and Caucus membership

  • Ranking Member on the House Budget Committee
  • Vice Chairman of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus
  • Co-Chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force
  • Co-Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Global Road Safety
  • Vice Chairman of the Democratic Task Force on Budget and Tax Policy
  • International Conservation Caucus[7]
  • Congressional Chesapeake Bay Watershed Caucus

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.[8]

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.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11]

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.[12]

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.[13]

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.[14] In keeping with that, Van Hollen was appointed the Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Van Hollen speaks during the second day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, in his capacity as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He is flanked by Democratic House challengers.

In 2009, Van Hollen introduced a bill which establishes a Green Bank to catalyze the financing of clean energy and energy efficiency projects.[15]

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.[16]

On April 29, 2010, Van Hollen introduced the campaign finance DISCLOSE Act.[17]

Political campaigns

Prior to Van Hollen's election, incumbent Connie Morella had won eight elections in the district, despite the fact that she was a Republican in a district where Democrats far outnumbered Republicans. Morella's success was largely attributed to her political independence and relatively liberal voting record, including support for abortion rights, gay rights, gun control and increased environmental protections.

After Morella's re-election in 2000, Democratic Maryland Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller made no secret that he wanted to draw the 8th out from under Morella. Indeed, one redistricting plan after the 2000 Census went so far as to divide the 8th in two, giving one district to Van Hollen and forcing Morella to run against popular State Delegate Mark Kennedy Shriver in November. The final plan was far less ambitious, but made the district even more Democratic by adding heavily Democratic precincts from neighboring Prince George's County, an area that Morella had never represented. It also restored a heavily Democratic spur in eastern Montgomery County that had been cut out in the last round of redistricting.

In 2002, Van Hollen entered a competitive Democratic Party primary against Shriver and former Clinton administration aide Ira Shapiro. Though Shriver had the most money, Van Hollen launched a very successful grassroots effort that mobilized Democratic voters. After receiving the endorsement of the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, and other local papers, Van Hollen defeated Shriver 43.5 percent to 40.6 percent.

During the campaign, Van Hollen emphasized that even when Morella voted with the district, her partisan affiliation kept Tom DeLay and the rest of her party's more conservative leadership in power. Van Hollen also touted his leadership in the State Senate on issues such as education funding, HMO reform, trigger locks for handguns, and protecting the Chesapeake Bay from oil drilling. Ultimately, after a tight race, Van Hollen defeated Morella 51.7 percent to 48.2 percent.[8] Van Hollen crushed Morella in the Prince George's County portion of the district, while narrowly winning Montgomery County. However, Morella won the precincts she'd previously represented.

Van Hollen has been reelected four times, each time winning over 70 percent of the vote against token Republican opposition. However, it had long been taken for granted that the Republicans would face extremely long odds of retaking the seat if Morella retired or was defeated in an election.


Chris Van Hollen is a supporter of women’s rights issues. [18] With pro-choice stance, In 2010 Hollen's approval rating was 100% from, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood and the National Family Planning & Reproductive Heath Association [18]. Van Hollen voted against the bill that prohibited the taxpayers funding of abortion, and against the bill prohibiting the use of federal funds for Planned Parenthood [18]. His approval rating was a 0% from the National Right to Life committee. Hollen also received a 100 % approval ratting from the league of woman voters in 2007 [18]. And is endorsed in part by the National Organization of women [19]

Another endorser of Van Hollen is the Bradley campaign to end violence [20] , a group which campaigns for more government regulation of guns[21] . Van Hollen received a 0% from the gun owners of America in 2006 [18]. In September of 2008 van Van Hollen voted no to restoring 2nd amendment rights to the district of Colombia [22] .

Van Hollen also supports animal rights groups such as the humane society, the society for animal protective legislation, big cat rescue, and defenders of wildlife action fund, all who gave him a 100% approval ratting [18]. Van Hollen also received endorsement from the humane society legislative fund in 2010 [23] . However Van Hollen is not a supporter of organizations which aim to protect the rights of sportsman and animal owners , and received an approval rating of 0% from the sportsmen and Animal Owner’s Voting Alliance [18].

Van Hollen received a 0% rating for the Citizens against government waste, and national taxpayers union in 2010 [18]. Both of which are organizations that advocate for lower taxes [24] [25] . In 2006 Van Hollen received a 100% rating from Citizens for tax Justice, a group that calls for higher taxes on the wealthy [26] . Van Hollen is not in support of eliminating the federal estate tax [27] [18].

Electoral history

Year Office Election Subject Party Votes  % Opponent Party Votes  % Opponent Party Votes  %
2002 Congress, 8th district General Christopher Van Hollen, Jr. Democratic 112,788 51.71 Connie Morella (incumbent) Republican 103,587 47.49
2004 Congress, 8th district General Christopher Van Hollen, Jr. Democratic 215,129 74.78 Chuck Floyd Republican 71,989 25.02
2006 Congress, 8th district General Christopher Van Hollen, Jr. Democratic 168,872 76.52 Jeffrey Stein Republican 48,324 21.90 Gerald Giblin Green 3,298 1.49
2008 Congress, 8th district General Christopher Van Hollen, Jr. Democratic 229,669 75.15 Steve Hudson Republican 66,345 21.71 Gordon S. Clark Green 6,825 2.23
2010[28] Congress, 8th district General Christopher Van Hollen, Jr. Democratic 138,032 73.0 Michael Lee Philips Republican 47,812 25.3 Mark Grannis Libertarian 2,480 1.3

Personal life

Van Hollen and his wife Katherine live in the town of Kensington with their three children: Anna, Nicholas, and Alexander.


  1. ^ a b c d Matusow, Barbara (2008-06-01). "Can Nice Guy Chris Van Hollen Finish First?". Washingtonian. 
  2. ^ "State Department Policy Analyst Eliza Van Hollen". The Washington Post. 2007-02-26. 
  3. ^ a b c d "VAN HOLLEN, Christopher, (1959 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. 
  4. ^ a b "Congressman Chris Van Hollen". United States House of Representatives. 
  5. ^ "CHRISTOPHER VAN HOLLEN, JR.". Maryland Manual Online. 
  6. ^ Rep. Van Hollen is December Commencement Speaker :: University Communications Newsdesk, University of Maryland
  7. ^ U.S. Congressional International Conservation Caucus Members
  8. ^ a b Amerinca Political Science Association election review
  9. ^ CEF Honors members of Congress for education funding
  10. ^ The Hill: House races loom large in student-loan debate
  11. ^ GCN: House votes against revised A-76 rules
  12. ^ Transcript of Congress speech on national security
  13. ^ Washington Jewish Week: Critics emerge of Maryland Congressman Also, see Ha'aretz article on AIPAC calling Van Hollen to recant: Get ready for the Democrats
  14. ^ Washington Post: Van Hollen says he won't run for Senate
  15. ^ Coalition for Green Bank applauds US Congressman Chris Van Hollen’s Green Bank Act. New Net. March 25, 2009.
  16. ^ Kane, Paul (March 5, 2010). "Michigan's Sander Levin replaces Rangel as House Ways and Means chairman". The Washington Post. 
  17. ^ H.R. 5175 THOMAS
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Christopher Van Hollen, Jr. Summary - Project Vote Smart". Chris Van Hollen. Retrieved 11-20-12. 
  19. ^ "National Organization for Women - Project Vote Smart". Retrieved 11-20-12. 
  20. ^ "Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence - Project Vote Smart". Retrieved 11-21-12. 
  21. ^ "Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence". Retrieved 11-21-12. 
  22. ^ "Key Votes - Chris Van Hollen, Jr. - Project Vote Smart". Retrieved 11-21-12. 
  23. ^ "The Humane Society Legislative Fund - Project Vote Smart". Retrieved 11-21-12. 
  24. ^ "Citizens Against Government Waste Homepage". Retrieved 11-21-12. 
  25. ^ "National Taxpayers Union". Retrieved 11-21-12. 
  26. ^ "CTJ - Citizens For Tax Justice". Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  27. ^ "Political Courage Test - Project Vote Smart". Retrieved 11-21-12. 
  28. ^ "Election 2010: Maryland" - Major party results, The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-10.

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Connie Morella
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 8th congressional district

United States order of precedence
Preceded by
Michael Turner
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Randy Neugebauer
Party political offices
Preceded by
Rahm Emanuel
Chairman of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
Succeeded by
Steve Israel
New York

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