As the minutes ticked by and a Friday deadline to fund the Department of Homeland Security grew closer, members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation condemned the party politics they said could result in a departmental shutdown.
“It’s time for Republican leadership to love their country more than they dislike the president of the United States,” Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, said in a release.
Larson was among the co-sponsors of H.R. 1024, a stopgap measure that would make sure Department of Homeland Security employees are paid should there be a shutdown midnight Friday.
Congressional Republicans had tied a Homeland Security funding bill to immigration in an attempt to step away from President Barack Obama’s immigration policies. Earlier in the week, Senate Republicans split the bill in two, hoping to pass a vote on immigration after the Homeland Security bill goes through and the department gets the money it needs to remain open.
That more focused measure is expected to be approved in the Senate Friday morning, though Republicans in the House had not endorsed the idea.
“We should not play partisan politics when our national security is on the line,” Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, said in a release. “I call on House Republicans to immediately bring a clean funding bill up for a vote so we can avoid a costly shutdown and keep our nation safe and secure.”
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Thursday that a Homeland Security shutdown will have real-world consequences in Connecticut.
“If Congress doesn’t act before Friday, Connecticut will feel the effects of inaction,” Malloy said.
According to the governor, a shutdown would impact the preliminary damage assessment for the storms that hit Connecticut this past month and would delay any FEMA action on the disaster declaration. Nonessential employees, including those at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, according to Malloy, will be furloughed and not paid during the shutdown.
“Congress needs to stop playing politics with our national security,” Malloy said. “We can all agree the funding the Department of Homeland Security should happen. We should not hold our national security or the security of Connecticut up for political gain.”
STEM Education Bill Passes House
A bill intended to increase access to science, technology, engineering, and math education passed the House this week by a wide margin, with 412 representatives voting in favor and only eight dissenters.
The bill, H.R. 1020, was introduced by Esty and Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.
“Our country is built on the innovation and entrepreneurship of all Americans,” Esty said in a release. “We must support educational and economic foundations that encourage this innovation, and today’s bipartisan passage of our STEM Education Act brings us one step closer to that goal.”
According to Esty’s office, the bill creates more access to existing STEM-related grants by including computer science and allows teachers who are pursuing master’s degrees to apply for grants, particularly making mention of computer science teachers.
Senate Commemorates Black History Month
A bipartisan group of senators, among them Sen. Christopher Murphy, D-Conn.; Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.; and Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., introduced a resolution this week commemorating Black History Month.
The resolution, S.Res.84, recognizes the contributions African Americans have made and specifically mentions Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ralph Ellison, Medgar Evers, Lena Horne, Mahalia Jackson, and Martin Luther King Jr., among others, and notes that “many African Americans lived, toiled, and died in obscurity, never achieving the recognition they deserved, and yet paved the way for future generations to succeed.”
“As we celebrate Black History Month, Connecticut and our entire nation proudly honor the rich culture and history of the African American community,” Murphy said in a release. “It’s a time to recognize the influential leaders who strengthened our nation in the face of injustice and reaffirm our own commitment to eliminate the inequalities and prejudices encountered by Americans today.”
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.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Introducing CTNewsJunkie’s latest offering – a once or twice weekly update on Connecticut’s congressional delegates and what they have been up to at the nation’s Capitol.
We are launching this feature in conjunction with our installation of new software from VoteTocracy.com, which provides a database of information on bills and lawmakers from around the country, and the option to register with VoteTocracy to vote “yes” or “no” on bills your delegates are considering.
Just float your mouse over the highlighted words below, and windows will pop up to provide you with more information. VoteTocracy is free for you to use. Just follow instructions to register and let your voice be heard. Click here for more info on VoteTocracy. We hope you enjoy this new feature!