Despite a presidential veto threat, the Republican-controlled Senate voted Thursday in favor of S.1, which approves construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, with no help from Connecticut’s two Democratic senators.

Sen. Christopher Murphy voted with the minority against the 1,179-mile pipeline, as did Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who announced his intention to run for re-election in 2016. They watched it pass in the Republican-controlled Senate, 62 to 36.

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The Senate debated 41 amendments to the Keystone XL bill, though only a portion of those were called for votes, and with those falling down party lines almost unfailingly. Of those amendments that did receive a vote, 11 were rejected, nine were tabled, and four passed.

The amendments included several Democrat-sponsored questions on climate change, all of which were all either rejected or tabled.

Only one such amendment passed, sponsored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., stating that “climate change is real and not a hoax.”

A measure designed to encourage homeowners to limit energy consumption also was tacked on to the Keystone bill and passed.

Murphy Supports Negotiations With Iran

On Monday, Murphy signed on to S.Res.40, which encourages the continuing use of diplomacy in nuclear talks with Iran, and stipulates that sanctions should only be employed should those talks break down.

The bill was initially introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

“There should be no doubt that the United States Congress stands ready and willing to pass new sanctions if Iran fails to live up to its end of the bargain in these negotiations,” Murphy said in a release. “Senator Feinstein and I introduced this resolution because we strongly believe that a comprehensive diplomatic agreement is the best way to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, and that passing new sanctions legislation at this time would be counterproductive.”

Blumenthal Signs On to Bill to Protect Child Sex Trafficking Victims During the Super Bowl

Blumenthal was the only senator to co-sponsor S.Res.43, a bill introduced by Rob Portman, R-Ohio, intended to protect child victims of sex trafficking.

The intention of the resolution is to express “the sense of the Senate that children trafficked in the United States should be treated as victims, and not criminals, especially during the upcoming Super Bowl, an event around which many children are at risk for being trafficked for sex.”

Although it does not specify any research supporting the allegation, the text of the bill does state that it is “widely recognized that the beloved American tradition of the Super Bowl, an event that draws tens of thousands of fans to the host city, like other major sporting events, leads to a surge in the sex trafficking of underage girls and boys in the host city.”

DeLauro Seeks to Protect Runaways

The U.S. House of Representatives addressed several proposed resolutions dealing with sex trafficked children this week, among them H. Res. 62, a proposal from Rep. Rosa DeLauro, CT-3, that would level a legal playing field.

The resolution seeks to make concrete the assertion that “exploited and trafficked girls are not ‘bad girls’ or ‘child prostitutes,’ but are victims of systemized rape who need the same legal supports and protections other rape victims are afforded.”

The bill is the latest addition to a series of similar measures proposed or supported by DeLauro, including the 2013 Violence Against Women Act, which reauthorized the earlier Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, intended to enhance law enforcement’s ability to combat sex trafficking.

DeLauro is a member of the congressional caucus on human trafficking.

Among the 34 co-sponsors of the bill were three of Connecticut’s congressional delegates: Rep. Elizabeth Esty, CT-5, Rep. John Larson, CT-1, and Rep. Joe Courtney, CT-2.

Last week, Reps. Joe Heck, R-NV, and Karen Bass, D-CA, also introduced legislation intended to strengthen support for child victims of sex trafficking.

Esty is Worried About E-Cigarettes

Last week, Esty introduced H.R. 478, a resolution intended to protect children from advertising that promotes the use of electronic cigarettes.

The text of the bill cites a 2014 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows use of electronic cigarettes tripling between 2011 and 2013 among high school students.

The bill would prohibit any advertising that is specifically geared toward children, and specifically mentions the use of cartoons and “sponsorships of events popular with youth such as concerts and sporting events.”

Among the 34 co-sponsors of the resolution were Larson, DeLauro, and Courtney.

Jordan Fenster is an award-winning freelance journalist. He lives with his family in Fairfield County. He can be reached by or @JordanFenster on Twitter.

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