Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D) addressed the Southern Maryland state delegation in Annapolis on Friday and spoke of honoring a Tuskegee Airman and possible bridge funding.
Van Hollen referred to President Donald J. Trump’s announcement during his Feb. 4 State of the Union speech that bestowed brigadier general status on retired U.S. Air Force Col. Charles E. McGee, a 100-year-old Bethesda resident and Cleveland native.
Van Hollen said that Trump’s action was made possible by enabling legislation that he co-sponsored with Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md., 4th) of Prince George’s County.
The honorary promotion was authorized as part of the National Defense Authorization Act in December. It followed on the heels of McGee’s 100th birthday on Dec. 7.
McGee flew combat missions in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam and was one of the first black fighter pilots in the United States. He is one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, who helped pave the way to the integration of the armed forces, according to airforcetimes.com.
Last year, the Air Force announced it would name the new T-7A training aircraft the Red Hawk, in honor of the red-tailed airplanes the Tuskegee Airmen flew.
Also on Friday, Van Hollen said that as a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, he introduced an amendment to the federal Transportation Bill that could fund replacements to the Gov. Thomas Johnson and Nice-Middleton bridges.
Van Hollen said his amendment passed unanimously in committee and is now on the Senate floor.
His comments came in response to state Del. Gerald W. “Jerry” Clark (R-St. Mary’s, Calvert) asking for help with funding a replacement for the Gov. Thomas Johnson Bridge that spans the Patuxent River.
Clark said the replacement would cost more than $500 million.
“We’ve been working since the early 2000s to get project money,” Clark said, calling the bridge replacement a national security issue due to its proximity to the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant and the Cove Point Liquified Natural Gas terminal.
Sen. Arthur Ellis (D-Charles) spoke to the need for transportation funding, too. “Our people are like prisoners, right?” he said. “You have to leave at certain times” to try and beat traffic.