WASHINGTON — The Senate this week failed to reach agreement on immigration reform, leaving in doubt the future for about 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children and could face deportation.
After several days of open-ended debate on immigration reform, the Senate voted on four proposals to overhaul the system but none could muster the 60 votes needed to move forward.
The failure stands in stark contrast to 2013 when the Senate voted 68-32 to establish a 13-year pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants as well as increased border security. It would also have shifted immigration policies away from a family-based system to one focused more on work skills.
Connecticut Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal spoke in favor of providing a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, who had been protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program established by President Barack Obama but which President Donald Trump set for expiration in early March.
A bipartisan agreement spearheaded by South Dakota Republican Mike Rounds and Maine Independent Angus King emerged this week from negotiations between a group of 16 Senators, but the plan was denounced by Trump. It would have offered a pathway to citizenship for the Dreamers, funded the border wall, put limits on family-based visas, and instructed Immigration and Customs Enforcement to focus on undocumented immigrants with criminal records.
On Twitter, Trump called the proposal a “total catastrophe” and urged the Senate to back a proposal by Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley that mirrored his priorities including providing a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants, funding border security, limiting family-based immigration and ending the so-called diversity visa lottery that favors entry from countries with low numbers of immigrants in prior years.
The Senate held procedural votes on the Rounds-King and Grassley proposals on Thursday with neither receiving the 60-vote majority needed to advance. Similarly, the Senate failed to advance a narrow immigration plan offered by Arizona Republican John McCain and Delaware Democrat Chris Coons, and failed to advance a plan by Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey to withhold federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities.
After the votes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he had hoped a bipartisan resolution could have been reached but blamed Democrats for being “unable or unwilling to get something done.” While the Senate moves on to other business, McConnell said he is open to holding debate on immigration in the future if a solution can be developed that can pass the Senate, House, and be signed by the President.
Murphy blamed Trump for the Senate’s failure to reach a compromise.
“Today the president blew up the only compromise on immigration that had a chance to pass,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, but not surprising. His candidacy and presidency have been premised on anti-immigrant grandstanding, and he won’t sign anything that makes things better.”
Blumenthal had a similar response.
“I am furious that President Trump threw a ticking time bomb to Congress, and then slammed the door on compromise at every turn,” he said.
Florida Shooting Draws Outrage
WASHINGTON — A mass shooting at a Parkland Florida high school on Wednesday in which 17 people were killed had the Connecticut delegation — once again — bemoaning the failure of Congress to respond in any meaningful way to address gun violence.
Representative Jim Himes was scheduled to be on the CNN’s Situation Room when news broke of the shooting and pessimistically predicted that the latest shooting would have no lasting impact on Congress.
“There will be a moment of silence, people will wish everyone thoughts and prayers … and then the Congress of the United States will do absolutely nothing,” Himes said.
He offered a similar message on MSNBC’s Morning Joe urging the public to speak up because lawmakers will not lead on this issue.
“We must raise our voices in on behalf of those who lost their lives. We must shout and scream and refuse to be silent until our government does something, anything, to protect our children and our families from this terror,” he said.
Similar messages streamed from the rest of the Connecticut delegation who have called for Congress to act on gun violence since 20 first graders and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. Since then, there have been at least 239 school shootings leaving 138 dead and hundreds more wounded.
Here’s what the rest of the delegation had to say:
“This epidemic of mass slaughter, this scourge of school shooting after school shooting. It only happens here not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction. We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else. As a parent, it scares me to death that this body doesn’t take seriously the safety of my children, and it seems like a lot of parents in South Florida are going to be asking that same question later today,” said Senator Chris Murphy.
“The events in Parkland are hitting far too close to home. I’m sick for the students. I’m sick for their parents. I’m sick for the community, for the first responders who once again are forced to treat an American school as a war zone. We think of America as an exceptional country. We are — we are the exception to the rule that mass shootings do not occur in schools, churches, concerts, and other public locations on an alarmingly regular basis,” said Representative Elizabeth Esty.
“Gun violence respects no boundaries. It spares no communities. It victimizes all of us wherever it happens and whenever, including the gun violence that kills people every day individually, often unpublicized and invisible. My heart breaks to hear that one more school is facing this unthinkable horror that again, this harrowing scene plays before the people of America,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal.
“There is something deeply amiss in our society when we experience routine massacres of our citizens, and our children, but we take no action to prevent such occurrences. Good people of conscience must come together in order to overcome the sense of helplessness in the face of unrelenting violence. We must act with urgency to protect our families and our communities from these atrocities,” said Representative Joe Courtney.
“We cannot allow this unconscionable tragedy to go unanswered … We cannot again lose our resolve to act. We must fight the gun lobby with every fiber of our being to pass gun violence prevention measures … like banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, requiring a background check for every commercial gun sale, and supporting federal research into the causes of gun violence,” said Representative Rosa DeLauro.
“What are we as a body or an institution, if we’re not going to stand up for our children? And if you disagree with universal background checks, fine, at least vote. At least let people know where you stand on this issue. Families, victims, the country deserves it.. The nation deserves for this Congress to act,” said Representative John Larson.
Trump Criticizes Malloy Over GE Loss
President Donald Trump this week blamed Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy for General Electric’s decision last year to move its headquarters from Fairfield to Boston.
The dig against the Democrat came during a roundtable discussion about urban renewal where New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart was one of the participants in the Oval Office meeting.
“How did you feel when Connecticut lost General Electric?” Trump asked.
“That was not a good day,” Trump continued.
The President then asked: “Well if you were governor that would not have happened, right? I think that would not have happened.”
“It would not have sir,” said Stewart, who is exploring a run for governor.
GE is the eighth largest corporation in the United States with 333,000 employees and $122.36 billion in sales, according to Forbes. It had been headquartered in Fairfield for 42 years before moving to Boston. It still has offices in Plainville, Norwalk, and Stamford.
UMass Amherst Professor Robert Nakosteen of The Isenberg School of Management recently offered the Boston Globe some insight into why the company moved to Boston:
• There was a $150 million incentive package from Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.
• GE wanted to refashion themselves as a cutting-edge technology company, so locating themselves in a world-class tech center like Boston fit that goal.
• And, former GE CEO Jeff Immelt “didn’t like looking out of his Fairfield, Connecticut office window and seeing only wooded area. He wanted to see a city instead.”
Following that move General Electric has both announced layoffs and replaced Immelt with John Flannery. In January, Flannery said he was thinking of breaking up the company and Deutsche Bank said General Electric will likely be removed from the Dow Jones industrial average.