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House and Senate Republican leaders are looking to quickly reach consensus on an overhaul of tax policy this week in hopes of sending a final bill to President Donald Trump before year’s end.

Both chambers have approved separate tax measures and must now negotiate a final bill that would be brought before the House and Senate — without amendment — for a final up-or-down vote.

Democrats have thus far been shut out of the process and will likely continue to be on the sidelines. They will keep raising their voices in opposition to the proposal that delivers substantial benefits to corporations and is protected to increase the federal debt.

The Connecticut delegation has spoken out against the GOP plan.

Representative Rosa DeLauro has dubbed the Republican efforts in the House and Senate a “tax reform sham” saying both proposals suffer from the same defects. In particular, she says, they would rig the tax code to provide a “giveaway to millionaires, billionaires, and corporate special interests” at the expense of the middle class.

“Democrats are fighting to create good paying jobs that cannot be outsourced by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, expanding access to early childhood education, and equipping workers with the skills they need through job training and apprenticeship programs. The Republican tax sham would not accomplish any of these goals,” she said.

Read our earlier report here

Himes: Intel Committee Should Subpoena Trump Jr.

Representative Jim Himes said Sunday that the House Intelligence Committee may need to bring Donald Trump Jr. back for a second round of questioning — this time perhaps under subpoena — as the panel continues its probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.

Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, Himes said that the President’s oldest son was generally cooperative last week when he met privately with the committee on Wednesday. He refused, however, to answer some questions citing an odd interpretation of attorney client privilege.

“We may need to sort of subpoena him or get him back under a compulsory process,” Himes said.

The Intelligence Committee, as a rule, does not compel witnesses to answer questions if they are appearing voluntarily and Trump Jr. had voluntarily appeared before the committee on Wednesday. He declined to discuss details of a Russia-related conversation with his father.

Himes said Trump Jr. was largely “forthcoming” in his interview, but “because of the sort of novel claim of privilege, we don’t know what happened in that conversation.”

Senator Richard Blumenthal, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee that is also probing Russian interference in the elections, issued a statement calling on that panel to subpoena Trump Jr. to testify.

“This completely disingenuous, bogus claim of lawyer-client privilege leaves no question that Donald Trump, Jr. must be subpoenaed to testify in public, under oath,” he said.

Blumenthal noted that Trump, Jr. has not fully complied with the Senate Judiciary Committee’s documents request, and initially withheld secret messages he exchanged with WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign.

During his Meet the Press appearance, Himes praised the leadership of Texas Republican Mike Conaway, who has been handling the Russian probe since the panel’s chairman, California Republican Devin Nunes, removed himself from the investigation after being accused of disclosing classified information it had received.

The House Ethics Committee has since cleared Nunes of the charges. Himes said that Nunes should not return to lead the investigation until he agrees to stop raising “nakedly political” distractions to the probe.

Murphy, Blumenthal Differ on Jerusalem

Although Connecticut Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal both support Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as its official capitol, the two Democrats offered divergent views last week on President Donald Trump’s decision to begin moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Israel has controlled Jerusalem since 1967 but both Israelis and Palestinians claim the sacred city as their political capital. The United States recognizes it as Israel’s official capitol but has refrained from moving the embassy there as a way of preserving its position as a “dispassionate broker” in peace negotiations between the two parties, as the New York Times explains.

Murphy fears that Trump’s decision to break that traditional neutrality could “spark a wave of violence, jeopardize peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and undermine American foreign policy interests.”

“Former Republican and Democratic presidents alike have understood the monumental security and foreign policy challenges inherent in moving our embassy, and have decided to delay the move in order to focus on making peace. I am concerned that President Trump’s decision was made without fully considering the political and security implications,” he said.

Blumenthal said that he strongly supports acknowledging the simple fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

“My hope is that the President’s announcement of his recognition of Jerusalem will be followed by meaningful steps to advance the peace process, including secure borders for Israel and a two-state solution,” he said.

In 2015, the Senate unanimously approved a resolution Blumenthal authored directly acknowledging Jerusalem as the “undivided capital of Israel.”


• A conference committee of House and Senate members negotiating a final tax bill holds an open meeting on Wednesday where they will stake out their priorities but leave the hard negotiations to closed door sessions.

• The Senate is scheduled to vote on three judicial nominations this week to confirm Leonard Steven Grasz of Nebraska to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Eighth Circuit, and Don R. Willett and James C. Ho, both of Texas, to be U.S. Circuit Judges for the Fifth Circuit.

• The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to vote Thursday to overturn its 2015 net neutrality rules, which require broadband providers to treat all internet traffic equally.

• The House plans to vote this week on H.R. 4324, the “Strengthening Oversight of Iran’s Access to Finance Act.” At issue are concerns that Iran Air may still be using its commercial passenger planes to deliver rockets, missiles, and other military cargo to Syria.

• The House Education and Workforce Committee plans to vote Tuesday on sweeping changes to federal higher education policies. It would revamp the $1.34 trillion federal student-loan program to cap borrowing by parents and students and eliminate some loan-forgiveness programs for students. Representative Joe Courtney sits on the panel.

CULTIVATE YOUR INDIVIDUAL DONORS – For most nonprofits, individual donors are their bread and butter when it comes to raising funds. This workshop familiarizes students with the specifics of creation, enhancement and improvement of that essential relationship between nonprofit organizations and their donors. Wednesday, Dec. 13, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Burroughs Community Center, 2470 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport. More info and RSVP

WORKING IN THE NONPROFIT WORLD: A SURVIVAL GUIDE – Any new position has its challenges. This training is designed to help you understand the nuances of communication within the work environment so that you can develop and grow within your new position. Friday, Dec. 15, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Charter Oak Federal Credit Union, 1055 Hartford Tpke., Waterford. More info and RSVP

WORKING IN THE NONPROFIT WORLD: A SURVIVAL GUIDE – Any new position has its challenges. This training is designed to help you understand the nuances of communication within the work environment so that you can develop and grow within your new position. Friday, Dec. 15, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Charter Oak Federal Credit Union, 1055 Hartford Tpke., Waterford. More info and RSVP

HOLIDAY FAMILY DINNER FOR LGBT+ YOUTH & YOUNG ADULTS AND FRIENDS (13-23) – A warm, festive, and fully accepting holiday dinner with a group of moms, dads, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins who extend our holiday love to you as if you were our own family. Saturday, Dec. 16, 6-8 p.m. at First Congregational Church of West Haven, 1 Church Street, West Haven. More info and RSVP


Representative Elizabeth Esty offers a reminder to get health insurance this month