Senator Chris Murphy just got back from Europe, talking to allies about U.S. spying abroad and counter-terrorism efforts. He’s also been outspoken about the role of the media in covering the Obamacare rollout. In fact, he’s got so much to talk about, we’re bringing him into our weekly news roundtable, The Wheelhouse. Join us for a free-wheeling conversation and ask your questions of Senator Murphy.
Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 2:09 pm
(We added to the top of this post at 2:08 p.m. ET.)
There was high drama Thursday on the floor of the Senate as Democrats significantly changed the way business in the chamber is done.
In what Republicans cast as a "power grab" but Democrats defended as a way to break gridlock, the Senate's rules were changed to make it much more difficult for a minority of the members to hold up action on key presidential nominees.
The effort to oppose a new free trade agreement seems to have caused a rare split in the ranks of Connecticut's congressional delegation. Connecticut's five U.S. House members are all Democrats, and usually stand together on a wide range of issues. But a huge new free trade agreement currently being negotiated between the U.S. and ten other Pacific nations is causing some friction between colleagues.
Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 6:46 pm
A House oversight hearing examining the troubled start of HealthCare.gov was contentious from the start Wednesday, as Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., sought to cut short the opening remarks of one of the first officials to speak, Frank Baitman, the deputy assistant secretary for Information Technology in the Department of Health and Human Services.
Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, asked Baitman to conclude his statement, noting that the panel's time was short. The interruption came as Baitman discussed the work of his agency to save taxpayers money.
On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which would ban discrimination of employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity. On Friday, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal urged House Speaker John Boehner to take up the bill in the House.
It’s back to work for hundreds of thousands of furloughed government employees. President Obama has signed legislation ending the partial government shutdown and averting a U.S. default. But U.S. Senator Chris Murphy said there’s no reason to celebrate.
The state's task force examining victim privacy and public information met Wednesday for a marathon session to consider issues at stake in restricting Connecticut's Freedom of Information Act. "Privacy now is so fleeting and so easily violated," testified Morgan Rueckert, the attorney for 22 Newtown families. One brief exchange captured on video put its finger on the pulse of the debate. That and more below in The Wheelhouse Digest.
Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 12:32 am
Bringing to an end an episode that once again exposed Washington gridlock at its worst, the House approved a Senate deal that will end a 16-day federal government shutdown and avert the first government default in U.S. history.
The 285-144 vote came at the eleventh hour, after weeks of partisan bickering and a very public airing of deep divisions within the Republican party. President Obama signed the bill into law after midnight Thursday.
Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 10:23 pm
Update at 10:18 p.m.: House Approves Bill:
The crisis is over. With about two hours before the country reached the debt ceiling, the House has approved the bill and it is now it's way to the White House. We've posted separately on that development and we are putting this live blog to bed.
Originally published on Sat October 12, 2013 6:02 pm
President Obama hosted the Senate's leading Democrats at the White House for more than an hour Saturday afternoon, in a session that came the same day that Majority Leader Harry Reid met with Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell.
No details were available about the Democrats' discussion, which is one of several lines of communication that are aimed at reaching consensus on a budget deal. Earlier Saturday, House Speaker John Boehner said negotiations with the White House were over, after the president rejected the GOP's most recent plan.
Dr. William Petit, the sole survivor of the brutal 2007 home invasion in Cheshire, has spoken with state Republican officials about a run for public office.
An anonymous Republican official told the Associated Press that Petit is considering a run for Congress. He has weighed in on public policy before, campaigning against the repeal of the death penalty in Connecticut.
The severely backlogged benefits office of the federal VA is about to slow down again. That's because the VA announced its furloughing nearly 10,000 VBA workers including its IT department. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal issued a statement today in response to the news. He said many of the employees are veterans themselves.
Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 6:45 pm
In a press conference that lasted more than an hour, President Obama said he was willing to talk about anything, as long as Republicans reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling, even if its for a short period of time.
"Let's stop the excuses. Let's take a vote in the House. Let's end this shutdown, right now; let's put people back to work" Obama said.
The work that Shaun O'Connell does is required by law, yet now he's sidelined by the government shutdown.
O'Connell reviews disability claims for the Social Security Administration in New York, checking that no one's gaming the system, while ensuring people with legitimate medical problems are compensated properly.
Billions of dollars are at stake with this kind of work, yet O'Connell is considered a nonessential employee for purposes of the partial government shutdown.
Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 5:42 pm
James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told Congress this week that the partial federal government shutdown has forced the furlough of some 70 percent of employees throughout the intelligence community.
"I've never seen anything like this," said Clapper, a 50-year veteran of intelligence work.
So what impact is all this having on the spy world?
Billy House, a Congressional correspondent for National Journal, was in the House chamber at the U.S. Capitol when gunfire was reported outdoors, behind a Senate building nearby. He provided an account of the brief lockdown that occurred in Washington, D.C. on Thursday afternoon.
The government shutdown has caused the furlough of 750 civilian workers from the Naval Submarine Base New London. Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney, whose district includes the sub base, said these workers don't deserve to be caught in the crossfire of national politics.