Sen. Chris Murphy spent the weekend touring civil rights sites in Mississippi and Alabama.
Murphy was part of a bipartisan delegation hosted by the Faith & Politics Institute. He tweeted several pictures:
At Medgar Evers’ home in Jackson, MS. His kids slept on floor to avoid gunshots thru the window.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) March 8, 2014
The pilgrimage was led by Rep.John Lewis of Georgia. According to the group’s website, the journey “allows participants to visit not only the sites of the Civil Rights Movement but to hear first-hand many of the compelling stories of hope that emerged from the movement.”
In addition to Medgar Evans’ house, participants visited the Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Garden and historic Tougaloo College, where they heard from veterans of Freedom Summer in Mississippi. The weekend culminated with a reenactment of the 1965 march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.
For Murphy, a high-point was meeting James Meredith, the first African American student admitted to the University of Mississippi.
League of Conservation Voters
As far as the League of Conservation Voters is concerned, Connecticut’s congressional delegation is almost perfect.
In the group’s annual rankings of conservation-related voting in Congress, Connecticut was right at the top in both the U.S. Senate and House.
This state’s U.S. Senators, Democrats Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, got a combined 100 percent League rating. Connecticut’s five Democratic U.S. House members racked up a 96 percent positive conservation voting record, according to the League’s system.
In case you were wondering, Wyoming’s Senate and House members came in at the very bottom in the group’s estimation, scoring zero in both chambers.
The League’s rating system is based on how members of congress voted on key conservation issues, such as federal funding to repair Hurricane Sandy damage to the McKinney Wildlife Refuge along the Connecticut shoreline. (Not exactly a tough vote for any lawmaker from this state.) Other issues on the League’s watch list included the Keystone Tar Sands Pipeline, military biofuels, the Farm Bill, and toxic air pollution.
U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy were among just nine Democrats who voted against the farm bill, which cleared the Senate Tuesday and now goes to the president’s desk.
The five-year, $1 trillion package funds a variety of agriculture and nutrition programs, including crop insurance, farm subsidies, and the federal food stamp program. The Senate’s approval of the sweeping package Tuesday marks the first time that Congress has approved a five-year farm bill during Obama’s presidency. In past years, the legislation has stalled due to partisan gridlock over some of the more controversial programs – and SNAP benefits, or food stamps, often have been the sticking point, with Republicans arguing for cuts to the program in order to rein in spending, and Democrats countering that the proposed cuts will destroy the safety net. All five U.S. Representatives from Connecticut voted against the farm bill when it cleared the House.
The bill cuts food stamps by $8 billion, which Blumenthal said would harm over 68,000 families in Connecticut, saying that he “cannot support a bill that contributes to growing inequality and insecurity in America.”
Blumenthal also said he was “disappointed by this legislation’s failure to put small farmers and families first.” The bill eliminates direct payments to farmers, a $4.5 billion program, and instead puts the money toward crop insurance subsidies, which opponents say helps agribusiness and hurts small farmers.
68 Senators Tuesday voted in favor of the bill and 32 Senators voted against it.
“This was a close call for me,” said Murphy, who acknowledged that all versions of the farm bill would include tradeoffs. “Ultimately, however, I couldn’t support a bill that disproportionally cut food stamps compared to the cuts in the bill to wasteful subsidies to agribusiness,” he said.
One of the top football players in the state – Jonathan Mumby – is headed to Washington, D.C. as a delegate to the U.S. Senate Youth Program.
The prestigious progam has numerous famous alumni who later went on careers in public life, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Democratic presidential advisor Mack McLarty and longtime Republican consultant Karl Rove. Another participant was former Rhode Island resident Sara Lonardo, who is now the communications director for U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro.
Mumby, an All-State player and honor roll student at Bloomfield High School, will be joined by West Haven High School’s Yingxian Guo - an academic superstar and co-captain of the varsity girls swimming team who is headed to Yale University. Mumby is awaiting word on whether he will be accepted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point or to the U.S. Naval Academy.
The two students were selected by state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, and all 104 students nationwide who are going to Washington are ranked in the top 1 percent of their states academically. Continue reading
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy responded Thursday to reports of a temporary cease-fire in Ukraine by calling on the government in Kiev to respond to protesters’ demands and address the political crisis that erupted in violence this week.
“While we regret that some protesters have resorted to violent measures that are inconsistent with the peaceful character of the Euro-Maidan movement, the responsibility for the growing political crisis in Ukraine lies squarely with the government’s heavy-handed tactics and undemocratic actions,” he said in a joint statement with Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)
The Senators said that the Ukrainian government “consistently failed to engage in meaningful dialogue with the opposition, and its attempt to forcibly end the protests through the passage of anti-democratic legislation and a deepening crackdown is only escalating the crisis.”
Murphy and McCain traveled to Ukraine in December and addressed a large crowd of pro-EU demonstrators who support closer ties with Europe and oppose a Russian-led customs union. The senators have backed the movement, and criticized the Ukranian government for its “brutal” tactics against non-violent protesters.
The protests started in November and turned deadly this week.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy is asking for an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service into the alleged theft of more than $70,000 in donations from a charity intended to benefit Newtown residents. The Tennessee-based “24.6.26 Foundation” collected more than $100,000 in donations that were supposed to go to Newtown, where 20 children and 6 educators died in a school attack on Dec. 14, 2012. The foundation donated $30,000 to the Newtown Youth Academy but $70,000 remains unaccounted for, according to Murphy.
Former U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman may have left Congress, but he’s still urging lawmakers to adopt a tough foreign policy – a position he espoused during his years in the Senate and one from which his successor has veered.
Lieberman on Wednesday testified before the House Homeland Security Committee and told committee members that the growing threat of terrorism “requires we stay engaged in the world beyond our borders.”
“Put very bluntly, I do not see a credible or coherent strategy right now for exactly those countries…that most threaten to emerge as al Qaeda’s newest and most dangerous footholds,” Lieberman said, warning against the rise of al Qaeda in Syria, Libya and Iraq.
The former chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee criticized lawmakers for their reluctance to consider military invention in such countries, and said that “we are failing to help deal with the underlying conditions that are making al Qaeda’s resurgence possible.”
Last September, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, who took over Lieberman’s seat after the Independent from Conn. retired, voted against a foreign relations committee resolution to authorize the use of military force in Syria. Continue reading
Albania’s ambassador to the United States, Glibert Galanxhi, will travel to Waterbury on Sunday to meet with members of the state’s Albanian-American community.
The gathering will take place at 10:30 on Saturday at the Albanian American Community Center at 38 Raymond St. in Waterbury.
The Center for Responsive Politics reviewed the personal financial disclosure filings that members of Congress are required to file and found that most are millionaires.
“Of 534 current members of Congress, at least 268 had an average net worth of $1 million or more in 2012, according to disclosures filed last year by all members of Congress and candidates. The median net worth for the 530 current lawmakers who were in Congress as of the May filing deadline was $1,008,767 — an increase from last year when it was $966,000,” the center stated on its blog.
Near the top of the list, at number eight, was Sen. Richard Blumenthal. His Connecticut colleague, fellow Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, was near the bottom of the list, at number 474.
The entire chart is here.
From our education reporter Kathleen Megan:
When U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced new guidelines on school discipline this week at an event in Baltimore, Sen. Chris Murphy was sitting right behind him.
“Long ago, I discovered that exclusionary discipline simply doesn’t work,” Murphy said in a phone interview. “It makes school less safe. It puts kids on a downward spiral that often ends up in the criminal justice system.”
The new guidelines caution against disciplinary policies that suspend or expel students for relatively minor offenses and fall disproportionately on minority students. In a blog post on the new guidelines, Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary for the Office of Civil Rights wrote: “Racial discrimination in school discipline is real, and it is a real problem.”
Murphy said that “suspension and expulsion makes adults feel better, but they don’t actually improve school climate and they don’t help kids.”
“There’s no way to misread the data: minority students get treated differently when it comes to suspension and expulsion than white students. He said the message to schools should be to reduce the overall rate of suspensions and expulsion. The punishment is often meted out for minor offenses, Murphy said, and can be a pipeline to the prison system.