A number of state and local representatives stressed the importance of speaking out against Congress’s proposed cuts to programs aimed at helping the state’s most vulnerable as well as standing up for the values Marylanders hold dear, during a Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington legislative breakfast Nov. 30.
“We need all hands on deck” to work against the Trump administration’s budget, said U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)
“We are going to need engagement by everyone of you. We are going to need enormous amounts of selflessness,” said Chuck Short, special assistant to County Executive Ike Leggett.
A who’s who of Maryland legislators and candidates were among the 200 attendees at the second annual Schmooze and Nosh Maryland Legislative Breakfast at Congregation Har Shalom in Potomac. The event was sponsored by JCRC, which represents more than 100 synagogues and organizations in the D.C. area.
Referring to the proposed tax plan, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said, “This bill will be an attack on middle class families.” Especially targeted for reductions are safety net programs that many Maryland residents depend upon, he said.
Cardin urged attendees to “stand up for the values of America,” which includes support for immigrants, he said.
The Trump administration’s recent decision to end temporary visas for Haitians living in America could one day extend to immigrants from El Salvador, added Van Hollen, noting that the County is home to “the largest El Salvadorian population in the country.”
Like Cardin, Van Hollen was critical of the proposed tax plan.
“I do think this is going to do grave damage to our country for years to come,” Van Hollen said.
The proposal, he said, provides “a huge tax cut” to corporations that will be “paid for by millions and millions of folks in the middle class.”
The junior senator noted that “Maryland is actually on the top of the charts in states” whose residents will end up paying more in taxes, especially if state taxes will no longer be allowed as deductions.
During the two-hour event, both Cardin and Van Hollen expressed strong support for the security of Israel.
“What’s happening in Syria has a direct relationship to what is happening in Israel.” Cardin said. “Iran is moving closer and closer.”
Also addressing the crowd was Attorney General Brian Frosh, who spoke of his efforts to sue the Trump administration when it “refuses to abide by the law.” Frosh is also working to keep generic drug prices down and end the use of bail to keep poor people in jail.
“Literally thousands of people are in jail every year, because they can’t make bail. They lose their homes. They lose their jobs. They lose their families,” he said.
“We are going to continue to fight for Marylanders,” he vowed.
During the event, Meredith Weisel, JCRC’s director of Maryland’s Government and Community Relations, listed the organization’s legislative priorities for 2018. On the County level, JCRC will work to secure funding to social services and create public-private partnerships to support the nonprofits here and advocate for security funding for places of worship.
It also will advocate for private Jewish education and transportation to and from private schools, while not diverting funds away from public school budgets.
Statewide, the JCRC will advocate for safety net programs, immigration reform and expansion of early childhood education programs.