SOUTHBURY — Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., included Southbury on his St. Patrick's Day weekend tour of the state Sunday morning.
Murphy was a breakfast guest of the Southbury Democratic Town Committee at the Southbury Senior Center. About 60 people turned up for free pancakes, sausage, coffee, muffins and a hearty serving of politics. Volunteers from the town committee put the entire event together to rally the base and to give the community a chance to hear from one of the state's two senators.
"I know that he does these things on occasion, and we had thought about him coming to something and we thought this would be a good time," Democratic Town Chairwoman Denise Forgione said. "Our goal was to get people to come out and get the Democrats in town involved more. It was not a fundraiser, not a promotion of any candidate and open to all. The senator said he would come and we took him up on it."
Murphy flew from Washington late Thursday night, hosted his own St. Patrick's Day breakfast Friday morning, and then hit the road.
"It is always a busy weekend, especially for an Irish politician," Murphy said. "I hosted the breakfast in Cheshire and I've been traveling all around the state since then, New Haven to Hartford to New London." He started his Sunday in Southbury, then was off to the New Hope Baptist Church in Danbury and later to New Haven for the big St. Patrick's Day Parade.
"This will be a good way to connect with friends and update them on what I am working on in Washington," Murphy said. "I like to do as many small group meetings and town halls as I can to keep people posted on what is happening in Washington."
Murphy serves on the Appropriations Committee, which allocates federal funds. He said Connecticut has not had a member of the Appropriations Committee in 28 years.
"Much of what's important to Connecticut is funded by the federal government, whether that be military manufacturing, our roads and rail lines," Murphy said. "I am excited to be on the Appropriations Committee and I'm going to be fighting hard to increase federal support for Connecticut projects."
Murphy said he is also working with some conservative Republicans to put together a mental health reform bill to improve the mental health system and build up in-patient capacity for seriously mentally ill individuals.
"Our mental health system is broken and it's part of the reason we are seeing a rise in gun violence across the country," Murphy said.
Murphy's remarks opened with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent speech to Congress and the recent open letter 47 Republicans sent to Iran.
"The United States Senate has gone a little topsy-turvy over the last couple of weeks," Murphy said. "This unprecedented breach of protocol in the invitation of a foreign leader to speak before Congress without, never mind the consent of the president, let alone the notification of the president, and then this equally unprecedented letter sent to the Ayatollah by 47 Republicans.
"It's a sign that Republicans in the House and Senate effectively deny the legitimacy of this president and are denying he exists," he said. "That is dangerous and also a sign of how bad things have gotten in Washington."
The Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, is one of the main issues in the sharply divided Congress. Many in the new Republican majority in the Senate want to repeal it.
"The Affordable Care Act is working, there is no doubt about that," Murphy said. "It needs to be perfected but when we have cut our uninsured rate in half in Connecticut in about a year's time. We should be talking about perfecting the law, not repealing it."