Government Shutdown Ends For Now; CT Delegates Split On Vote
Congress agreed to end a three-day-old government shutdown voting on Monday to approve a temporary spending measure that will keep funds flowing for another three weeks.
The short-term “continuing resolution” passed the Senate 81-18 and the House 266-150 drawing opposition from more liberal Democrats including Connecticut Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy.
“This stop-gap, three-week patch shortchanges Connecticut’s needs and priorities,” Blumenthal and Murphy said in a joint press release.
A deal to end the shutdown was struck Monday by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell where a 60-vote margin was needed to pass the continuing resolution.
They agreed to a deal that would keep the government open for another three weeks while Democrats and Republicans work on a long-term budget agreement for the current fiscal year. The bill also includes a six-year reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program law that recently expired and a commitment from McConnell for a floor vote on a bill to allow so-called DREAMers — undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children — to remain in the country.
Blumenthal and Murphy said they welcomed a commitment to have an immigration debate next month but said the continuing resolution “fails to adequately support our national defense, opioid treatment, disaster relief, or community health centers while leaving Dreamers without any certainty about their future.”
President Donald Trump issued a statement after the deal was announced saying he was pleased Democrats in Congress “have come to their senses and are now willing to fund our great military, border patrol, first responders, and insurance for vulnerable children.”
Only 45 House Democrats voted in favor of the continuing resolution including Connecticut Representatives John Larson and Joe Courtney. Representatives Elizabeth Esty, Jim Himes and Rosa DeLauro opposed it.
DeLauro said she opposed the continuing resolution because it does not resolve “the fundamental issues” that have kept Democrats and Republicans from reaching a long-term budget agreement.
“It still fails to support Community Health Centers, which serve as the primary health care provider for over 27 million people — including disproportionately rural and low-income populations. It fails to permanently reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which gives 9 million children access to health coverage,” she said in a statement.
Esty said she did not want to continue a government shutdown but felt compelled to oppose the continuing resolution.
“Neither party can, or should, govern alone. We are now nearly four months into this fiscal year, without a budget. I’m willing to stay in Washington — without pay — as long as necessary to get a real agreement that provides certainty and stability for our troops and for the American people. Until then, I cannot support this Continuing Resolution,” she said in a press statement.
Courtney said he supported the continuing resolution that was negotiated earlier in the Senate although he would have preferred “an even shorter continuing resolution with a firm deal on lifting budgetary spending caps.”
“However, the deal hammered out by Senators McConnell and Schumer will provide a path forward for resolving this roadblock and other essential issues that have held up the 2018 budget process for an unacceptable length of time,” he said.
Larson said he voted to re-open the government because it included a six-year reauthorization of CHIP, which helps provide insurance to 17,000 low-income children in Connecticut through the state’s HUSKY program.
“While CR’s are harmful in general, I voted for a short-term extension only through February 8th as a sign of good faith as I believe it is better to negotiate with the government open rather than closed,” Larson said. “If the Republicans renege on their commitments, it will be clear to the American people they can neither govern nor keep their word with regards to funding community health centers, opioid funding, protecting young Americans who were brought to this country as children from being deported, and domestic programs.”