Chaos reigned in the House Republican ranks after Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who was favored to become the next Speaker, dropped out of the race. There was not a peep from Connecticut’s all-Democratic congressional delegation about that situation. But Senate Democrats, including Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, were eloquent and forceful in the re-launch of a campaign promoting universal background checks of gun purchasers — a measure that stalled in Congress several months after the Newtown shootings.
Prisoners to be released
Federal officials announced that 6,000 inmates, 32 of them from Connecticut, would be released before their sentences were completed in the largest prison release in U.S. history.
The early releases from incarceration, the largest in U.S. history, are the result of the U.S. sentencing commission’s amendment of guidelines for drug offenses. That means those found guilty on federal drug charges will serve less time, while up to 46,000 who have already been convicted of those charges are eligible for early release.
CT senators split with Obama
Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy split with the White House over a massive defense bill that would boost production in Connecticut’s defense industry. The Democratic senators voted for the bill, which was approved on a 70-27 Senate vote this week.
But President Obama said he’d veto it because a $31 billion boost in the bill is funded by an overseas contingency account and not offset by a cut in other spending. The bill also contains Murphy’s “Buy American” amendment that aims to curb the Pentagon’s use of waivers that allow the Defense Department to purchase foreign-made products.
“I supported this bill today, but I continue to have very serious concerns about the budgetary gimmick of using the Overseas Contingency Operations account to fund Defense Department operations,” Murphy said.
Another shot at gun control
Reacting to the nation’s latest mass shooting in Oregon, Senate Democrats, including Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut said they would try once again to pass legislation first prompted by the mass slaying in Newtown. The proposed legislation would close background check loopholes, expand the background check database, and tighten regulations on illegal gun purchases.
But the legislation faces an uphill climb in a Congress controlled by Republicans who resist toughening new restrictions on gun sales and say the way to address the epidemic of mass shooting is through the mental health system. The National Rifle Association said the Democrats are “exploiting” the mounting tragedies caused by gun violence. Murphy said Congress’ inaction on gun control is “sending an unintentional signal of mass acquiescence” about gun violence.