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Posted inNews

Washington Watch, Week of May 18

In the week before Congress’ Memorial Day Break, the House will tackle a bill that would boost accountability at the scandal-plagued Department of Veterans Affairs. Legislation that would provide billions of dollars for Connecticut’s defense contractors will also move forward this week with a House vote on the National Defense Authorization bill and action in the House Appropriations Committee on a defense spending bill that would fund all projects in the authorization bill.

Posted inPolitics

Blumenthal says Obama’s NSA reforms only first step

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who has introduced legislation to rein in NSA spying, said President Obama’s announced reforms of the agency are “stronger in principle than prescription.” While he praised the president for moving to address concerns abroad and at home about the NSA’s operations, Blumenthal said he would continue to press for approval of his legislation, saying Congress must “provide precision and details” to the president’s reforms.

Posted inNews

Blumenthal milks Senate support for dairy compromise

During the Senate debate Thursday on a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill, Sen. Richard Blumenthal used a glass of milk as a prop to try to bring attention to a new compromise that might end a deadlock over the dairy program that has stalled a massive farm bill. Blumenthal, D-Conn., said a deal has been cut to keep the current dairy subsidy program while phasing in a new program that would replace those subsides with an insurance plan.

Posted inEducation

Gray, others, urged by Obama to find ways to boost college enrollments

With his education agenda stalled in Congress, President Obama on Thursday urged Gregory W. Gray, Connecticut’s President of the Board of Regents for Higher Education, and dozens of other university presidents to share each other’s methods of expanding access to higher education. “More than ever a college degree is the surest path to a stable middle class life,” Obama said at a White House conference on opening the door to college for more students, especially low-income youths.

Posted inNews

Connecticut dairy farmers at center of fight over farm bill (updated)

Washington — Rep. Joe Courtney and the state’s dairy farmers are in a pitched battle with the most powerful member of the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner, a fight that has stalled the farm bill and whose outcome is likely to affect the price of milk across the country. “Speaker Boehner, in my opinion, is interjecting his own special interests agenda to the detriment of the farm industry and rural American as a whole,” Courtney said.

Posted inNews

Connecticut credit card holders most likely to complain about Citibank

Connecticut ranks seventh in the nation when it comes to per capita complaints about credit card bills, says a new report by ConnPIRG, a consumer advocacy group. Citibank is the lending institution most often cited in complaints from Connecticut cardholders, ConnPIRG said. But nationally, Capital One was the most complained-about credit card issuer by total number of complaints, followed by Citibank, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase.

Posted inPolitics

Votes of CT senators rarely deviate from party position

Washington — During Congress’ debate on the farm bill last summer, Orange, Conn.-based Pez and other Connecticut candymakers looked for an opportunity to overhaul the federal sugar program so prices for the sweetener would fall. They lobbied for weeks on Capitol Hill for an amendment to the farm bill that would reform the Department of Agriculture sugar program, which props up U.S. sugar prices.