Montgomery County Council meets with Senator Ben Cardin

Montgomery County Council meets with Senator Ben Cardin

Councilmember Tom Hucker raised a number of topics with Benjamin L. Cardin (D), Maryland’s senior U.S. senator, during a wide-ranging luncheon talk Monday with other County Councilmembers.

“I truly appreciate Senator Cardin finding the time in his busy schedule to talk with us today and hear our concerns,” Hucker said. “He’s been a strong advocate for Maryland and our county in the Senate.”

The hourlong talk covered a variety of specific issues, but overriding them all were the policies of the Trump Administration.

Cardin, responding to Hucker’s questions, expressed confidence that Congress would reach a bipartisan solution to the Dreamer problem, created when Trump cast a cloud over the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program and tossed the issue to Congress. Hucker pointed out that the issue, along with that of immigrants with Temporary Protective Status that’s expiring soon, is of particular concern in his district, which has a high immigrant population.

The protective status, in place for more than 16 years, is set to expire for Honduran immigrants on Jan. 5 and for Salvadoran immigrants on March 9. Cardin and some Senate colleagues have written to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke urging the renewal of this status.

Cardin also said that by undercutting the Dreamers as he has, Trump erodes the nation’s moral authority to speak out on global humanitarian disasters, such as the Burmese government’s genocide of its Muslim Rohingya population.  

Hucker asked Cardin about steps Congress can take to curb human trafficking, a growing problem in Montgomery County that Hucker has focused on in the County Council. With both Republicans and Democrats lined up on the same side of the issue — a rarity these days, Cardin said — prospects are good for some federal action.

Hucker and Cardin also spent some time discussing congressional Republicans’ budget and tax plans and how disastrous they would be for the middle class — on top of “blowing a $1.5 trillion hole” in the federal budget deficit, Cardin said.  

Hucker blasted GOP plans to get rid of the federal income tax deduction for state and local taxes, which would cost Montgomery County households thousands of dollars each. In the face of local opposition from higher-tax states such as Maryland, New York and New Jersey — and most recently from the National Association of Home Builders — Republicans appear to have abandoned that proposal.

“I believe in federalism,” Cardin said, likening the GOP plan to robbing local jurisdictions of their authority to set their own taxing priorities.

Cardin criticized the cynical GOP tactic of doubling the standard income-tax deduction, but cutting personal exemptions. That means a family of three would break even, but a family of four or more would see their taxes rise under the Republican plan.

Furthermore, the Republican budget proposal completely ignores the nation’s growing and serious infrastructure needs, Cardin said.

Cardin also touched on a number of other issues raised by councilmembers, including affordable housing; the Affordable Care Act and Trump’s actions to gut it; North Korea; and gun control.

“Senator Cardin is fighting for the people of Maryland, not the special interests,” Hucker said. “We’re fortunate to have him as our senator.”

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