Most CT lawmakers opposed bill that reopened government
Washington – Saying the deal was not good for Connecticut, most Connecticut lawmakers on Monday voted against a short-term spending bill that will reopen the government.
“Senator Blumenthal and I came to the conclusion that another (short term spending bill) is bad for Connecticut,” Murphy said.
Reps. Jim Himes, D-4th District; Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District; and Elizabeth Esty, D- 5th District, were also “no” votes when the U.S. House took up the measure later in the day.
The Connecticut lawmakers were in the minority, however, and the short-term bill was approved by both chambers. The vote in the Senate was 81-18, and in the U.S. House it was 266-150.
Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, and Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, were the only Connecticut lawmakers who voted for the stopgap bill.
Besides funding the federal government for three weeks, the continuing resolution, or CR, authorized the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as HUSKY B in Connecticut, for six years. Without congressional action, the program, which covers about 17,000 children in Connecticut, would end on March 31 in the state.
The Connecticut Democrats who opposed the CR said it failed to fund key programs, such as grants for community health centers and to fight opioid addition.
They also criticized the short-term bill for failing to provide additional funding to help last year’s hurricane and forest fire victims, including the hundreds of Puerto Ricans who have moved to Connecticut. They also voted against the CR because Republicans have failed to consider legislation that would protect young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers.”
“This stopgap, short-term bill will short-change Connecticut’s needs and its priorities,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Connecticut lawmakers also said short-term funding of the federal government — this is the 4th CR since the federal fiscal year began on Oct. 1 — is bad for the Pentagon and Connecticut’s defense industry.
“The Defense Department hates CRs because they can’t sign any new contracts,” Murphy said. “There’s a lot of work that could be coming to defense contractors in Connecticut that doesn’t.”
Himes said funding the federal government in increments “makes us rigid.”
“We cannot deal with new and revealing threats. We know our enemies are not standing still,” he said.
DeLauro said, “Our government was shutdown by President Trump and congressional Republicans due to their inability to govern.”
“The Constitution empowers the Congress to appropriate funds for the general well-being and for the national defense,” DeLauro said. “Instead, congressional Republicans are asking us to fund the government a few weeks at a time, as we go from continuing resolution to continuing resolution without addressing the major issues facing our nation.”
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy joined the chorus of Democratic critics of the way Republicans are dealing with the federal budget.
“While Congress did reinstate core functions of the federal government, I remain deeply disappointed in the manner in which President Trump and Republican congressional leaders have decided to govern,” Malloy said. “While controlling both houses of Congress and the presidency, they continually elect to kick the can down the road on critical issues facing our nation and offer no stability or long-term vision. In short, it’s a misguided and irresponsible way to run any organization, much less the federal government.”
Senate Republicans were unable to overcome a Democratic filibuster against a four-week CR Friday, in part because it did not offer protections for the “dreamers.” That prompted the shutdown of the federal government and an attempt to reach a compromise.
The compromise includes a GOP promise to move forward on legislation that would protect the dreamers from deportation.
Murphy said the compromise will prompt debate that is likely to end up in Senate legislation that will help immigrant youth. But the fate of that legislation is less certain in the House, and President Donald Trump has rejected bipartisan, bicameral agreements that would protect dreamers.
“It’s important that now we are going to have a debate, but there’s a chance these kids will face deportation,” Murphy said.
The are about 700,00 young immigrants in the United States, about 8,000 of them in Connecticut, who were brought to the United States as children and protected under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
Trump ended the program in September, saying Congress should codify DACA. But some DACA recipients were allowed to renew their status for two years, and the Trump administration said they would not begin deportations of others in earnest until March.
“I am deeply concerned that kicking the can down the road for the fourth time in as many months fails to protect the dreamers from deportation,” Blumenthal said.
Carolina Bortolleto, a founder of CT Students for a Dream, said she is disappointed the Senate accepted a deal that does not protect dreamers.
“This isn’t going to protect anyone from deportation,” she said. “We don’t want promises. We want a solution.”
Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, an immigrant advocacy group, blasted Senate Democrats who voted for the compromise.
“Last week, I was moved to tears of joy when Democrats stood up and fought for progressive values and for dreamers. Today, I am moved to tears of disappointment and anger that Democrats blinked,” Sharry said.
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