Among the heavy discussion items up for debate on the Senate floor this week is H.R. 240, which would fund the Department of Homeland Security and, in its present form, severely curtail presidential control of national immigration policy.

The bill would maintain funding for the Department of Homeland Security, set to run out Feb. 27, but Republicans have linked the bill to immigration, specifically regarding so-called DREAMers, foreign-born minors who have been granted permanent residency in the U.S.

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Sen. Christopher Murphy, speaking on the floor of the Senate last week, called for a “clean” funding bill, saying, “This matters greatly to a state like Connecticut.”

Murphy citied the recent terrorist attacks in France and the security response across Europe, and suggested Republicans in the House are wrong to make the funding bill about immigration here in the U.S.

“Astoundingly though, here at home, it seems like there are a lot of Republicans in Congress who would rather talk about deporting children who were brought to this country without documentation, rather than talking about funding the very agency that every day seeks to keep our homeland safe from threats,” Murphy said. “Even as our allies in Europe look for ways to improve their security, the House of Representatives in particular has told us that the only way that we can fund the Department of Homeland Security, keeping this country safe, is to start deporting young boys and girls who are here trying to make it in the United States.”

The bill passed in the House, with 245 Republicans voting in favor and 188 Democrats, including the entire Connecticut delegation, voting against the measure.

As former DHS Secretaries Tom Ridge, Michael Chertoff, and Janet Napolitano wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, “by tethering a bill to fund DHS in FY 2015 to a legislative response to the president’s executive actions on immigration, the likelihood of a Department of Homeland Security shutdown increases.”

Budget Talks Begin in Committee

This week, both House and Senate budget committees with begin discussing the President’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget.

Connecticut’s representatives in Washington, among their Democratic counterparts from other parts of the country, were openly supportive of the president’s $4 trillion budget proposal.

“The president’s proposal includes strategic funding that expands access to affordable college education and workforce training, increases basic research and development investments, and advances a long-term plan to modernize our transportation infrastructure all while cutting taxes for working families,” Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, said in a release.

The proposed budget includes an increase in defense spending, and Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, speaking to the Courant, specifically noted the impact on Connecticut.

“It’s a solid vote of confidence in Connecticut’s industrial defense capabilities,” Blumenthal said, according to the Courant. “It is particularly striking because it really matches the enormous skill and quality of Connecticut’s defense industrial base and it recognizes the unique resource we have in that base in those workers has to be enhanced and supported and preserved.”

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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