WASHINGTON — Congress this week agreed to a temporary extension of funding to reopen the federal government after a three-day shutdown that the vast majority of the public viewed as “mainly unnecessary.”
The continuing resolution to fund the government for three more weeks was approved after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to hold a debate on immigration reform that could lead to establishing in law a program to allow an estimated 800,000 so-called Dreamers – undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children and could face deportation – to remain in the United States.
Republicans and Democrats blame each other for the shutdown and credit themselves for its end. Voters hold a largely negative view about the whole political exercise, according to a national survey conducted by the Quinnipiac University Poll that was released this week.
The poll found that 84 percent of American voters say the shutdown was “mainly unnecessary” while just 13 percent say it was “mainly necessary.” Asked who was to blame for the shutdown, 32 percent said Democrats in Congress, 31 percent said President Donald Trump and 18 percent said Republicans in Congress.
While Congressional Republicans may have skirted blame for the shutdown, they remain disliked by most voters who aren’t particularly enamored with either party. Voters disapprove of Republicans in Congress, 70-24 percent. They disapprove of Democrats in Congress, 63-30 percent.
“While Republicans in Congress don’t get much of the blame for the shutdown, they should take note of the consistent, strong support for action to help the Dreamers,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. The Q Poll found that 75 percent of American voters support (while 18 percent oppose) allowing Dreamers to remain in the U.S. legally.
After an agreement was reached to reopen the government, President Trump turned to social media to claim victory.
“Big win for Republicans as Democrats cave on Shutdown. Now I want a big win for everyone, including Republicans, Democrats and DACA, but especially for our Great Military and Border Security. Should be able to get there. See you at the negotiating table!” he said on Twitter.
Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal were among 16 Senate Democrats and 2 Republicans who voted against the continuing resolution.
Connecticut GOP Chairman JR Romano criticized them for the vote saying they had “decided to not stand with the children of the state of Connecticut and not stand with our veterans and our military personnel.”
The continuing resolution also included a six-year reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which had previously expired putting into jeopardy federal funding for Connecticut’s HUSKY program that provides health insurance to low-income children.
“It was more important that they push a political agenda than actually help anyone. This has become the m.o. of both Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy that are less focused on their responsibility to serve the people of the state and more interested in elevating their political credentials and following amongst progressives,” Romano said in a video posted on Twitter.
Murphy had proposed a shorter extension of government funding while lawmakers addressed the Dreamer concerns as well as other budget-related disagreements that have kept Congress from approving a budget for the current fiscal year including funding for community health centers. The proposal was rejected by Senate Republican leaders.
Murphy plans to visit Community Health Services in Hartford at 3 p.m. today to highlight “the danger” of continued Congressional inaction on long-term funding for the 17 federally qualified health centers in Connecticut. If funding is not extended before March, he says, hundreds of community health center workers could lose their jobs and thousands of Connecticut residents could lose access to health care.
Blumenthal said he opposed the three-week extension and favors reaching a bipartisan agreement on fully funding the federal government through the current fiscal year. He said the continuing resolution “in effect kicks the can down the road” and he also questioned whether McConnell would deliver on his pledge to help Dreamers.
“I am skeptical about the promises made on the floor of the Senate by the Majority Leader. I’m hoping that my Democratic colleagues, who voted to favor this continuing resolution, are actually right – but we’ll see in the next three weeks,” he told CNN.
Blumenthal explained that despite the “very public commitment” from McConnell the agreement fails to guarantee that a bill will pass the Senate, be taken up by the House or signed into law by the President. In 2013, the Senate approved an immigration reform bill by a healthy margin only to see it ignored by the House.
New Haven Mayor Boycotts White House Event
New Haven Mayor Toni Harp’s absence from a White House event for mayors from across the country filled the East Room may have gone unnoticed this week but for President Donald Trump.
Wearing a dark suit and blue tie, Trump entered the East Room shaking hands with a couple of mayors seated near the center aisle before waving and approaching a small podium at the center of the room.
“We have some really hardworking people in this room,” Trump said, then asked a few individuals to stand.
First up was Pascagoula (Mississippi) Mayor Dane Maxwell. Next he called on Fort Worth (Texas) Mayor Betsy Price. Then came Harp. When she failed to stand, Trump joked that she might be a “sanctuary city person.”
“That’s not possible, is it?” he asked.
Yes, indeed it is.
Harp, in town for a Conference of Mayors meeting, had decided to join New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and others in skipping the meeting to protest the Trump administration’s policies on so-called sanctuary cities that do not assist the federal government in deporting undocumented immigrants.
Trump posted a video on Twitter of a portion of his address that followed after he called unsuccessfully on Harp, where he sharply criticized Sanctuary cities.
“Sanctuary cities are the best friend of gangs and cartels like MS13. You know that,” he said. “The mayors who choose to boycott this event put the needs of illegal immigrants over law abiding Americans. But let me tell you, the vast majority showed up. I want to thank all of you for being here – dozens of mayors from across the country.”
He later posted on Twitter that it was his “great honor” to welcome the mayors to the White House: “My Administration will always support local government – and listen to the leaders who know their communities best. Together, we will usher in a bold new era of Peace and Prosperity!
The New Haven Independent has more, including Harp explaining the boycott occurred after learning the Justice Department that morning had issued subpoenas in 23 sanctuary cities.
DeLauro Visiting Puerto Rico
Representative Rosa DeLauro traveled Thursday to Puerto Rico to assess the recovery efforts underway since Hurricane Maria caused massive damage to the island.
DeLauro and Representative Grace Ming of New York, both members of the House Appropriations Committee, planned to be in Puerto Rico for two-days to meet with local representatives about their needs.
“Months have gone by since Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the island of Puerto Rico, yet our many of our fellow Americans on the island still do not have access to basic necessities like water, electricity, and medical care. That is unacceptable. I am hopeful that my meetings with local and federal officials, as well as families, will help inform Congress’ work as we continue our effort to pass a disaster relief package that makes Puerto Rico whole,” she said.
They planned to tour a local hospital, school and community health center in Puerto Rico and visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dengue Branch and Lab. They also expect to be briefed by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response on the ongoing response and recovery efforts.
VIGIL TO SUPPORT HARTFORD’S CLIMATE REFUGEES on Friday, Jan. 26 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Red Roof Plus Hartford Downtown, 440 Asylum Street, Hartford. More information
NYC YOUNG WOMEN’S POLITICAL LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE on Saturday, Jan. 27 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at New York University’s Rosenthal Pavilion. More information & to register
A SCREENING of “I Am Evidence” on the backlog of evidence collection kits will be followed by a Q&A session on Wednesday, Jan. 31 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Greenwich Town Hall, 101 Field Point Road, Greenwich, hosted by the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Joyful Heart Foundation, and the Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education. More information
MEN FOR CHOICE cocktail party to benefit NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut on Thursday, Feb. 8 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the home of Attorney General George Jepsen and Diana Sousa. More information & to RSVP
Happy birthday to Mary O’Leary of the New Haven Register and lobbyist Bill Malitsky!
Don’t forget to email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a shout out for a friend or colleague.