A bill Sen. Blumenthal cosponsored to change the way military sexual assaults are prosecuted met defeat in the Senate Thursday.
The measure, introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, would remove the prosecution of sexual assaults and other crimes punishable of up to more than a year from the military chain of command. Blumenthal has been driving efforts to overhaul the military justice system, and earlier this year invited Staff. Sgt. Sandra Lee, an Iraq War veteran and assault victim from Manchester, to Washington as his State of the Union guest. Supporters of the measure point to statistics that indicate sex assaults in the military are increasing but fewer are being reported. Continue reading →
Saying that he’s leading effort to help students drowning in college debt, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal announced Tuesday that he was writing college presidents to ask for their help.
Blumenthal, in a letter released by his office, told college presidents he wants to give students a “refinancing option” so they can find lower rates, much like homeowners do. He said he was also “developing an initiative to reduce student loan principal for borrowers who pursue teaching, policing, health care service and similar professions.”
Blumenthal said he would be convening a series of meetings with college leaders to discuss his ideas further.
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. Senator Blumenthal is calling on other pharmacies and drug stores to join CVS and ban the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Last week, CVS Pharmacy announced that it would halt the sale of cigarettes and other related tobacco products in more than 7,600 of their U.S. stores.
“Put your stores truly at the corner of happy and healthy, not death and addiction. Instead of spreading the scourge of smoking, promote cessation. Selling cigarettes may be legal, but it’s not right,” Blumenthal said, picking up on an CVS advertising slogan
According to the Center for Disease and Control Prevention, cigarette smoking is responsible for 480,000 deaths a year and annual smoking attributable economic costs in the U.S. were estimated to be $289 billion for 2009-2012. Costs included at least $133 billion for direct medical care of adults and over $156 billion in lost productivity, in some cases due to the exposure of second hand smoke alone. Continue reading →
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. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is calling for a federal agency to investigate the latest electrical problems with the Metro-North Commuter Railroad.
Blumenthal was joining his colleague, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, in midtown Manhattan for a press conference on Friday night regarding the two hour delays that were caused Thursday night during a maintenance project.
”’We are going to be calling for an investigation by the Federal Railway Administration – with accountability for whoever made the decision to do this maintenance at the peak usage hour on one of the coldest days of the year,” Blumenthal told Capitol Watch via cell phone on his way to the press conference. ‘’There needs to be accountability here. This culture and management failure is simply unacceptable. There needs to be an action plan and systemic reform, not just ad hoc changes.” Continue reading →
Ten days after sending a letter to Neiman Marcus demanding answers about a data breach that left customers’ credit card information exposed, the retailer sent a detailed response.
In its Jan. 22 letter to Blumenthal, Neiman Marcus said it will offer a year of free credit-monitoring and identity-theft insurance to anyone who used a payment card at any of its stores or online in the past year.
Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, said he was pleased with the company’s response.
“This letter is proof companies subject to data breaches can do better – implementing the consumer protections I have advocated, including prompt notification, free credit monitoring and identity theft insurance, and that federal legislation should be enacted quickly to ensure all consumers can rely on those protections,” he said. “I’ll continue to review this letter and pursue legislation to protect consumers from data breaches.”
The state’s Congressional delegation and major corporations are quite pleased with the good news coming out of Washington, D.C. that will send billions of dollars to Connecticut defense contractors.
The bill includes more money for Electric Boat submarines, Sikorsky helicopters, and Pratt & Whitney jet engines. Besides money for the big-name companies, the funding will help hundreds of small subcontractors who manufacture parts and components for the big products. Continue reading →