Now that Democrats are in charge of congress, the House speaker has Baltimore roots and the House majority leader has represented Maryland for 25 years, the new administration in Annapolis has set some high expectations for the state's delegation to Capitol Hill.
"Yes, we are hoping for more," Democrat Martin O'Malley said after a breakfast meeting today with seven of the state's 10 congressional representatives, five days after his swearing in. The seven Democrats and one Republican flanking him emerged from their working gathering over muffins and coffee with unity and a new name for themselves: Team Maryland.
"Not only do they have the experience and ability to get things done, now they have the clout," O'Malley said.
In four years under Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., the governor met with the delegation just once, officials said, on Capitol Hill. As a group, they were never invited to Annapolis.
"We're no longer stifled from being able to follow a Maryland agenda,"said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), now a senior member of the Senate appropriations committeee. She was quick to add that while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) and Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md) are sure to pay attention to Maryland's interests.
"What will happen in Maryland will not be because of personal relationships, but because we're in power positions."
The O'Malley's administration has a long wish list for federal legislation and aid, starting with Homeland Security money to shore up the Port of Balitmore and other operations. Then there are transportation and school needs to accommodate 10,000 new jobs expected through the BRAC process. And more federal dollars to protect the Chesapeake Bay would be nice.
"Maryland is playing a more substantial role in the defense of our country," Sen. Benjamin Cardin(D-Md) said. "The federal government is responsible to help fund that."
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