Chris Van Hollen

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Chris Van Hollen
Chris Van Hollen official portrait, 2010.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 8th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2003
Preceded by Connie Morella
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 Christopher Van Hollen, Jr.
(1959-01-10) January 10, 1959 (age 57)
Karachi, Pakistan
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Katherine Van Hollen
Children Anna
Alma mater Swarthmore College
Georgetown University
Harvard University
Religion Episcopalianism
Website House website

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, a suburban county adjacent to Washington, D.C., as well as portions of Carroll and Frederick counties.

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 (DCCC), the fifth-ranking position among House Democrats. In this post, Van Hollen was responsible for leading efforts to get more Democrats elected to Congress. In November of 2006 Democrats took control of the House away from the Republicans.

After Republicans reclaimed the House in 2010 Van Hollen did not run for re-election for chairman of the DCCC. Van Hollen was instead elected 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. On October 17, 2013 Pelosi appointed Van Hollen to serve on the bicameral conference committee.[1] Van Hollen is running for the United States Senate in 2016 to replace Senator Barbara Mikulski.[2]

Early life, education, and career[edit]

Van Hollen was born in Karachi, Pakistan, the eldest of three children of American parents Edith Eliza (née Farnsworth) and Christopher Van Hollen.[3][4] 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 and the Maldives (1972–76);[5] 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.[6][7][8] He spent parts of his early life in Pakistan, Turkey, India, and Sri Lanka.[9][7] He returned to the United States for his junior year of high school, and attended Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts, where his grandfather once taught.[7]

He is an alumnus of the Kodaikanal International School, a very prestigious school in southern India. In 1982, Van Hollen graduated from Swarthmore College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy.[10] 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.[10]

Early political career[edit]

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.[11] 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).[11] He earned a Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1990.[10] He was admitted to the Maryland bar in 1990, and joined the law firm of Arent Fox.[12]

Maryland Legislature[edit]

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).[10] 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.[7] In 2002, The Washington Post called Van Hollen "one of the most accomplished members of the General Assembly."[13]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Chris 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.

Maryland's 8th District hugs the northern border of Washington, D.C. and is one of the wealthiest and most educated congressional districts in the nation. The federal government is the single largest employer in the district, and many private companies are funded by the government.[14]

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.[15] The first bill Van Hollen introduces every session is the Keep Our Promise to America's Children and Teachers (Keep Our PACT) Act, which would fully fund No Child Left Behind and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. 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.[16]

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.[17]

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 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.[18]

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.[19]

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.[20] In keeping with that, Van Hollen was appointed to 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.[21] He reintroduced the same bill again in 2014.[22]

In March 2010, when Charles Rangel was forced to resign as Chairman of the Committee on 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.[23]

On April 29, 2010, Van Hollen introduced the campaign finance DISCLOSE Act.[24] He reintroduced the bill for the 113th Congress on February 9, 2012.[25]

In April 2011, Van Hollen sued the Federal Election Commission, charging it with regulatory capture and the creation of a loop hole that allowed unlimited and undisclosed financing in the 2010 election reason. Had it not been for the loophole, according to Hollen "much of the more than $135 million in secret contributions that funded expenditures would have been disclosed." [26]

Congressman Van Hollen has been a strong supporter of disability rights, especially for individuals with intellectual disabilities. In 2010 he became a co-chair of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus and has sponsored numerous bills that would benefit individuals with disabilities.

Committee assignments[edit]

Party leadership and Caucus membership

Political campaigns[edit]

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 that had swung heavily Democratic. 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 than its predecessor. It absorbed nine 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.[14] Van Hollen crushed Morella in the Prince George's County portion of the district, while narrowly winning Montgomery County. However, Morella won most of the precincts she'd previously represented.

Proving just how Democratic this district was, Van Hollen was reelected four times from this district by over 70 percent of the vote. 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.

After the 2010 census, Van Hollen's district was made slightly less Democratic. He lost a heavily Democratic spur of Montgomery County to the neighboring 6th district, and lost his share of Prince George's County to the 4th district. In their place, the 8th absorbed heavily Republican Carroll County and a strongly Republican spur of Frederick County. Nonetheless, since his share of Montgomery County has more than double the population of his shares of Carroll and Frederick counties combined, Van Hollen easily won a sixth term over Republican Ken Timmerman with 63 percent of the vote. While Van Hollen lost in Carroll and Frederick, he swamped Timmerman in Montgomery by 113,500 votes.


Van Hollen has been endorsed by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence,[28] a group which campaigns for more government regulation of guns.[29] Van Hollen received a 0% from the Gun Owners of America (GOA) in 2006.[30] In September 2008, Van Hollen voted against repealing portions of the D.C. Firearm Ban.[31]

Van Hollen also supports animal rights groups such as The Humane Society, the Society for Animal Protective Legislation (SAPL), Big Cat Rescue (BCR), and Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, all of whom gave him a 100% approval rating.[30] Van Hollen also received endorsement from the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) in 2010.[32] Although he supports animal rights groups, Van Hollen received an approval rating of 0% from the Sportsmen's and Animal Owners' Voting Alliance (SAOVA).[30]

Van Hollen received a 0% rating for the Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), and the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), in 2010.[30] Both these organizations advocate for lower taxes for everyone including the wealthy.[33][34] In 2006, Van Hollen received a 100% rating from Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ), a group that calls for higher taxes on the wealthy.[35] Van Hollen opposes eliminating the federal estate tax.[30][36]

In his 2016 Senate platform, Van Hollen supported an increase in the minimum wage, paid sick leave, an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, equal pay for women, an increase in the child care tax credit, and a financial transactions tax.[37]

Electoral history[edit]

Year Office Election Subject Party Votes  % Opponent 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[38] 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
2012[39] Congress, 8th district General Christopher Van Hollen, Jr. Democratic 192,711 62.50 Ken Timmerman Republican 104,391 33.90 Mark Grannis Libertarian 6,624 2.10 George Gluck Green 4,498 1.50
2014[40] Congress, 8th district General Christopher Van Hollen, Jr. Democratic 127,260 60.3 Dave Wallace Republican 83,711 39.7
2016[41] MD Senator, Class 3 Primary Christopher Van Hollen, Jr. Democratic 470,320 53.2 Donna Edwards Democratic 343,620 38.9
2016 MD Senator, Class 3 General Christopher Van Hollen, Jr. Democratic 0 0.0 Kathy Szeliga Republican 0 0.0

Personal life[edit]

Van Hollen and his wife Katherine live in the town of Kensington with their three children, Anna, Nicholas, and Alexander. Van Hollen is of Dutch descent.[42]


  1. ^ "Pelosi Names Conferees to FY 2014 Budget Conference". Archived from the original on July 4, 2014. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Easley, Jonathan (March 4, 2015). "Van Hollen to rn for Maryland Senate". The Hill. Retrieved March 4, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Christopher Van Hollen, Jr". Retrieved 2012-08-31. 
  4. ^ "State Department Policy Analyst Eliza Van Hollen". The Washington Post. February 26, 2007. Retrieved 2012-08-31. 
  5. ^ Kelly, Jacques (2013-02-03). "Christopher Van Hollen Sr., ambassador, Former Baltimorean and father of Md. congressman was ambassador to Sri Lanka and career Foreign Service officer". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2013-02-25. 
  6. ^ "State Department Policy Analyst Eliza Van Hollen". Washington Post. 2007-02-26. Retrieved 2013-02-25. 
  7. ^ a b c d Matusow, Barbara (2008-06-01). "Can Nice Guy Chris Van Hollen Finish First?". Washingtonian. 
  8. ^ "State Department Policy Analyst Eliza Van Hollen". The Washington Post. 2007-02-26. 
  9. ^ "Chris Van Hollen (D)". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c d "VAN HOLLEN, Christopher, (1959 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. 
  11. ^ a b United States House of Hollen  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ "CHRISTOPHER VAN HOLLEN, JR.". Maryland Manual Online. 
  13. ^ "is December Commencement Speaker". University Communications Newsdesk, University of Maryland. December 2, 2004. Retrieved 2012-08-31. 
  14. ^ a b "American Political Science Association election review" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-08-31. 
  15. ^ Bosland, Julie. "CEF Honors members of Congress for education funding". Retrieved 2012-08-31. 
  16. ^ House races loom large in student-loan debate. The Hill Archived September 5, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ Mosquera, Mary (September 10, 2003). "House votes against revised A-76 rules". GCN. Retrieved 2012-08-31. 
  18. ^ "Transcript of Congress speech on national security". September 19, 2006. Retrieved 2012-08-31. 
  19. ^ 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
  20. ^ Craig, Tim; Wagner, John (July 12, 2005). "Van Hollen says he won't run for Senate". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-08-31. 
  21. ^ Coalition for Green Bank applauds US Congressman Chris Van Hollen’s Green Bank Act. New Net. March 25, 2009.
  22. ^ "House Democrats Introduce the Green Bank Act of 2014". Archived from the original on June 28, 2014. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  23. ^ Kane, Paul (March 5, 2010). "Michigan's Sander Levin replaces Rangel as House Ways and Means chairman". The Washington Post. 
  24. ^ H.R. 5175 THOMAS
  25. ^ "Van Hollen, House Democrats Introduce DISCLOSE 2012 Act". Archived from the original on July 4, 2014. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  26. ^ "Top Democrat sues Federal Election Commission over anonymous donors". The Hill. April 21, 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-31. 
  27. ^ "U.S. Congressional International Conservation Caucus Members". International Conservation Caucus. Retrieved 2012-08-31. 
  28. ^ "Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence – Project Vote Smart". Retrieved 2012-11-21. 
  29. ^ "Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence". Retrieved 2012-11-21. 
  30. ^ a b c d e "Christopher Van Hollen, Jr. Summary – Project Vote Smart". Chris Van Hollen. Retrieved 2012-11-20. 
  31. ^ "Key Votes – Chris Van Hollen, Jr. – Project Vote Smart". Retrieved 2012-11-21. 
  32. ^ "The Humane Society Legislative Fund – Project Vote Smart". Retrieved 2012-11-21. 
  33. ^ "Citizens Against Government Waste Homepage". Retrieved 2012-11-21. 
  34. ^ "National Taxpayers Union". Retrieved 2012-11-21. 
  35. ^ "CTJ – Citizens For Tax Justice". Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  36. ^ "Political Courage Test – Project Vote Smart". Retrieved 2012-11-21. 
  37. ^ "An Economy that Works for Everyone | Chris Van Hollen". Retrieved 20 August 2016. 
  38. ^ "Election 2010: Maryland" - Major party results, The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-10.
  39. ^ "Maryland 8th Congressional District Results", Retrieved 2012-11-12.
  40. ^ ", Retrieved 2014-12-2.
  41. ^ [1], Maryland Board of Elections. Retrieved 2016-06-01.
  42. ^ "Van Hollen, Hoekstra to Announce Founding of Congressional Caucus on the Netherlands". Retrieved 2013-01-10. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Barone, Michael, and Chuck McCutcheon. The Almanac of American Politics 2012 (2011) pp 762–5

External links[edit]

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

Party political offices
Preceded by
Rahm Emanuel
Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
Succeeded by
Steve Israel
Preceded by
Barbara Mikulski
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Maryland
(Class 3)

Most recent
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mike Turner
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Randy Neugebauer