WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, released the following statement shortly after President Trump signed the bipartisan funding bill Murphy voted for to avoid another government shutdown and fund nine federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2019. The latest government shutdown was the longest in history, lasting 35 days. 800,000 federal workers, 1,500 of whom work or reside in Connecticut, were either furloughed or working without pay.
“I voted for this bill to make sure that we don’t have another catastrophic shutdown. But it’s absolutely maddening. The basic outline of this deal on border security was on the table two months ago. We could have saved billions of dollars and spared the hundreds of thousands of federal workers the stress and financial hardship they went through. This vote yesterday just makes the shutdown look even more stupid,” said Murphy.
As President Trump signed the bipartisan deal to fund the government, he announced that he would declare a national emergency to build his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Murphy responded to the news stating, “Declaring this a state of emergency is obviously unconstitutional, but President Trump doesn’t seem to care. Trump says he’s some master negotiator but he’s bungled this thing from the beginning.”
The appropriations package includes funding for multiple government agencies. The DHS section includes $1.37 billion for pedestrian fencing, the same level of funding for physical barriers as last year. The bill prohibits concrete walls or other Trump Wall prototypes. Only “existing technologies” are appropriated for barriers and fencing – technology that predates President Trump’s call for a wall. The overall $1.7 billion increase in DHS funding is focused on non-barrier border security priorities, including technology at ports of entry, customs officers, and humanitarian aid.
The bill also includes a 2.6% pay increase for uniformed members of the U.S. Coast Guard and a 1.9% pay increase for federal workers, many of whom were affected by the last government shutdown. The bill also includes an amendment written by Murphy and supported by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Representatives John Larson (CT-1) and Joe Courtney (CT-2) to provide assistance to homeowners in Connecticut hurt by crumbling foundations due to pyrrhotite.
Highlights of other funding priorities for Connecticut in the legislation that Murphy helped secure include:
- Funding to combat the opioid epidemic, including:
- $347 million for state and local law enforcement grant programs to address the opioid crisis
- $77 million to support postal service inspections to identify cross-border opioid trafficking
- $47 million to help the FDA address the opioid epidemic through stronger enforcement, science, and innovation
- Funding to improve transportation infrastructure, including:
- $1.94 billion for Amtrak, including $650 million for the Northeast Corridor (NEC)
- $400 million for Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program
- $10 million for Amtrak Security Program
- Funding for local first responders and safety grants, including:
- $525 million for State Homeland Security Grant Programs
- $350 million for Assistance to Firefighters Grants
- $350 million for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants
- $50 million for Nonprofit Security Grants
- Funding to improve housing, including:
- $3.65 billion for the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) program
- $279 million for Lead Hazard Reduction Grants
- $40 million in new funding for the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program
- $14 million for Long Island Sound Geographic Program
- $5 million for the United States Coast Guard Museum in New London, Connecticut, bringing the total federal investment to $10 million
- $20 million for Highlands Conservation to help protect open space in Connecticut