The Maryland Congressional Delegation Dinner was held Monday, March 9 and, for those of you who couldn’t make it, this was a dinner like no other. Yes, there were hundreds of business leaders from across the state who came to network. Yes, Maryland’s congressional delegation was present. And yes, the congressional delegation spoke about important issues that affect business. Certainly an event you would expect from the Maryland Chamber of Commerce. However, with a change in program format, the participation of Rep. Andrew P. Harris (R), 1st District in an otherwise Democratic field, the bombshell announcement of Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s retirement just a week prior and the knowledge that some of the Representatives present had announced or would soon be announcing their interest in Sen. Mikulski’s seat, it was a lively and interesting night.
Sen. Mikulski did not disappoint in her opening remarks. After congratulating Brien Poffenberger as he transitions into his role as President and CEO of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and thanking the Chamber for hosting the event, she talked about another transition, a much bigger one, that of a new governor. She characterized an initial meeting with Governor Hogan as collegial and one of wanting to work together. Sen. Mikulski said, “The Maryland Congressional Delegation might be 90% Democrats but we are 100% Maryland.” And then, to the sound of much applause she repeated by saying, “That’s the way we need to be, 1-0-0-% M-A-R-Y-L-A-N-D.”
Claiming she is never one to be dainty, Sen. Mikulski talked about “dropping a political bombshell.” As for her response when asked what she’s going to do in two years, Sen. Mikulski is quick to focus on what she’s going to do in the next 2 minutes, 2 days, 2 weeks. “I/we need to act with the fierce urgency of right now to create jobs,” and yes, she has a vision to do just that. For the remainder of her remarks Sen. Mikulski talked about that vision including:
The program that followed was a departure from previous years in the form of an unscripted question and answer period with each member of the delegation jumping into the discussion. Topics included carbon policy, tax reform and the Port of Baltimore.
Remarks from Rep. Andrew P. Harris (R), 1st District, came next. He provided a perspective on how the House, under Speaker Boehner, looks at issues that affect business. Overall, he pointed to an economic recovery that is too slow, companies still struggling to make a profit and workers still struggling to find good paying jobs. House Republicans are concentrating on private sector job creation and getting rid of federal government red tape which in Rep. Harris’ words, “Just plain suffocates business.” Rep. Harris applauds Gov. Hogan’s efforts, making businesses know they are welcome in Maryland is the right thing to do. Rep. Harris is united with the rest of the delegation in giving Gov. Hogan any assistance he needs at the federal level to get the job done for Maryland.
Closing remarks, delivered by Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D), 5th District, included a tribute to Sen. Mikulski and, to the delight and laughter of the crowd, an announcement that he is “not running for the United States Senate” making him unique among so many of his colleagues. He then went on to talk about the need to find ways to work together and only by working together will we bring economic benefit to the state.