An intimate group of students gathered in the Gelman Library Starbucks Wednesday night to participate in a discussion with Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland’s Eighth District in an event sponsored by Politico.
Van Hollen serves as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which he said is working to “motivate voters who supported President Barack Obama to come out in midterm elections.” The economy, corporate executive compensation scandals and environmentally friendly energy were among the topics he discussed.
Van Hollen said the House of Representatives “plans to address health care by passing legislation to drive down costs,” this summer. Addressing issues like health care, he added, is “directly related to the economy.”
“Good policy makes for good politics,” he said.
He also advised students who hope to make politics their profession to get involved in political campaigns at the grassroots level.
As Van Hollen’s district contains most of Montgomery County and parts of Prince George’s County, he takes a strong interest in D.C. issues. He discussed his support for the proposed purple Metro line that would connect the ends of existing D.C. lines.
When asked if it the purple line will become a reality, Van Hollen said he was “optimistic,” as long as its construction does not interfere with a local hiking and biking trail.
The Congressman also noted the accomplishments of fellow Democratic leaders. He described Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as a “very effective” leader. Van Hollen holds the official position of assistant to the speaker.
The event was the third in a series of “Coffeehouse Conversations” jointly hosted by Starbucks and Politico, a D.C.-based political newspaper. It was the second hosted on GW’s campus.
“GW students in particular ask such fascinating questions. They’re always knowledgeable and very engaged,” said Mike Allen, the chief political correspondent for Politico and moderator of the event. Rick Klein of ABC News served as co-moderator.
Among the approximately 50 attendees, Allen recognized a group of students he called “die-hards” from GW’s chapter of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity who had attended the two previous discussions as well.
“We have a lot of politically active people in our fraternity,” freshman Josh Brown said.
Stephen Huang, a recent graduate of Wheaton College and a constituent of Maryland’s Eighth District, read about the event in Politico.
“I voted for Van Hollen even though I’m a conservative,” Huang said. “He’s a very smart speaker and someone I admire a lot.”