FIGHTING GAS PRICE HIKES & BIG OIL PRICE GOUGING
— U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) visited Hartford, Milford and Norwich to call for more federal action to lower gas prices for consumers and stop profiteering by oil giants. As gas prices at the pump rise, Big Oil companies have pocketed billions in profits, with 25 top oil and gas companies announcing an astonishing $237 billion in profits in 2021 alone.
“Big Oil is profiteering while causing consumers pain at the pump. People deserve relief, & they deserve it now. That is why we need a comprehensive set of federal actions like the Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax, Gasoline Price Gouging Prevention Act, & other initiatives.”
“A Windfall Profits Tax would put oil company profits back in consumers’ pockets as quarterly rebates. A Price Gouging Prevention Act would stop unconscionable price hikes with powerful penalties & strong FTC enforcement.”
“The Biden Administration must take more action—including pressuring OPEC & Big Oil to produce more supply & continued releases of oil from emergency reserves.”
“These are clear measures to provide relief to communities, & I call on my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to join this effort. I call on the President to support these steps, & I will continue to pursue additional legislative solutions.”
ENDING AMERICA’S GUN VIOLENCE EPIDEMIC
— U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) rallied with Students Demand Action and joined Gabby Giffords at the National Gun Violence Memorial to urge Congress to address America’s gun violence epidemic.
Standing with U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and students from across the country in front of the Capitol on Monday, Blumenthal called on his colleagues to pass commonsense measures to save lives.
“Senators, colleagues, whether you’re Republicans or Democrats, you can’t look away…You can’t close your eyes or your ears to what’s happening in America,” said Blumenthal. “To all of my colleagues—but especially to Republicans—let me be very blunt, we’re at a put up or shut up moment. We need to act—and we need to act now. Seize this moment of opportunity.”
As Blumenthal and his colleagues continue to discuss a path forward on gun violence prevention measures, Blumenthal stressed the importance of ensuring any bipartisan measure be consequential and meaningful, stating:
“It won’t go as far as we like. I still have a very open mind about what we will be able to do, very clear eyed about what is possible. We’re going to keep working and trying as long and hard as possible, but we need something real and meaningful,” Blumenthal continued. “Something more than just window dressing or face-saving because America demands real and meaningful action.”
After hearing first-hand from the students, Blumenthal thanked them for their activism and efforts to prevent gun violence from becoming the norm.
“Never doubt for a moment that you are inspiring people to listen and see and hear what’s happening in America. You are our future and we need your conscience. We need your caring. And thank you for making a difference. Never doubt that you are.”
Blumenthal and a group of his colleagues also visited the National Gun Violence Memorial on the National Mall on Tuesday, where Giffords has displayed over 45,000 flowers representing the increasing number of Americans dying from gun violence every year. At the Memorial, Blumenthal paid tribute to survivors and victims and shared a story about Gabby Giffords visiting Newtown in the days following Sandy Hook.
“In those first days, literally twenty-four, forty-eight hours, Gabby Giffords came to Connecticut. She came to Newtown, she came to one of the homes of relatives who lost a loved one. No cameras, no reporters, no public attention. Gabby Giffords came there, to give heart and hope to those families that gathered. Their lives broken, literally, most of them still raw with the tears and the grief of that moment. And Gabby Giffords, by her presence, by her words, by the force of her personal story, gave them heart and hope,” said Blumenthal.
“And they have been champions. The Sandy Hook survivors and families have been champions of gun violence prevention. And I want to pay tribute today to all of the survivors who continue to come forward, continue to relive their stories of horror and heartbreak. And Gabby Giffords gives them, all of them, the role model and the mentor and the example of personal courage, grace under pressure that inspires us all. So if you take nothing else away from today, it is her message: fight, fight, fight. Never, ever give up.”
Blumenthal also met with students leaders from March for Our Lives on Thursday.
“Huge thanks to the students from March for our Lives who met with me today. Your fearless, ardent advocacy inspires me to continue working tirelessly in the Senate to turn your calls for change into action.”
On Friday, Blumenthal led a virtual roundtable with Connecticut educators and law enforcement following renewed national conversations about school security and gun violence. Blumenthal highlighted what Connecticut has done in the 10 years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting to protect children and school staff from gun violence.
FEDERAL FUNDING WINS FOR CONNECTICUT
— As June marks the start of Great Outdoors Month, the Connecticut Congressional Delegation announced that the U.S. Department of Interior has awarded a $3.94 million grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). The funding will help improve local public parks and outdoor recreation access for Connecticut residents.
“This federal grant enhances and expands Connecticut’s great outdoors for the benefit of the public. As longtime advocates for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, we are proud to have fought for this funding to increase recreation and outdoor opportunities across Connecticut. With the summer season officially underway, this funding will help support local projects and expand outdoor access to more Connecticut residents while creating good jobs and bolstering conservation efforts in our state,” said the Connecticut Congressional delegation.
— U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) and U.S. Representative Jim Himes (D-CT) announced that Goodwill of Western and Northern Connecticut will receive a $139,392 grant to provide occupational training, job search and placement assistance, and other employment-related services to veterans experiencing or at-risk of homelessness.
“This grant will change the lives of underserved veterans – providing them with essential services and employment resources to re-enter the workforce,” said Blumenthal. “Failing to support our nation’s heroes is unacceptable. With these federal funds, the Goodwill of Western and Northern Connecticut will put veterans on the path to their rightly-earned stable housing and employment.”
By providing skills training, assisting veterans with attaining apprenticeships, and developing an Individual Employment Plan (IEP), Goodwill of Western and Northern Connecticut’s program will help veterans overcome barriers to reliable housing and employment. The program will focus on homeless female veterans and veterans with children, incarcerated veterans, and other veterans experiencing homelessness.
The funding is part of more than $57 million awarded to organizations across the country by the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program. Goodwill of Western and Northern Connecticut is one of fifty-six non-profit organizations, state and local workforce investment boards, tribal governments, and faith-based and community organizations to receive the three-year grant.
PROTECTING REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
— U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) joined Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Patty Murray (D-WA) and 21 of their Senate colleagues in a letter to President Biden urging him to immediately issue an executive order directing the federal government to develop a national plan to defend Americans’ fundamental reproductive rights, including their right to an abortion.
“If Roe v. Wade is gutted by this right-wing Supreme Court, Republican leaders have already signaled their next move: a nationwide ban on abortion in all 50 states. Americans across the nation and at every level of government must stand up against this unprecedented assault on women and their right to make decisions about their own bodies and lives. But as President of the United States, you have the unique power to marshal the resources of the entire federal government to respond.”
— U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) introduced the MARCH for Servicemembers Act in the Senate to protect the right to abortion for service members. The bicameral legislation would allow military medical treatment facilities to provide abortion services and allow the military to cover associated costs.
“This legislation will provide our servicemembers with access to safe, reliable reproductive healthcare – a right that should be available to all Americans,” said Blumenthal. “Those in uniform fighting to defend and uphold our freedoms deserve the freedom to make their own choices about their own bodies. As courts and state legislatures across the country roll back and eliminate access to abortion, this measure safeguards against harmful restrictions and obstacles standing between providers and patients. I’m proud to join my colleagues in this urgent effort.”
HONORING OUR VETERANS
— U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, spoke on the Senate Floor ahead of a vote to begin consideration of bipartisan, comprehensive legislation to deliver multiple generations of veterans exposed to dangerous toxins access to healthcare and benefits under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the first time in the nation’s history.
The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act includes legislation championed by Blumenthal to expand benefits, healthcare, and compensation to veteran populations that are not currently able to access services: veterans who responded to the nuclear disaster in Palomares, Spain, those who were deployed to the K2 Air Base, and veterans and families exposed to toxins in the water supply at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The legislation also prioritizes bringing relief to post-9/11 veterans exposed to burn pits for decades, primarily while serving overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The PACT Act is a profoundly significant measure. It is a milestone in our dealing with the health and benefits our veterans deserve,” said Blumenthal on the Senate Floor. “This legislation is so significant because it will begin to right the inaction of the government in helping veterans afflicted by toxic exposure.”
For years, veterans have faced barriers when seeking treatment, benefits, and recognition for illnesses and injuries caused by exposure to burn pits, toxins, and poisons during their service. The PACT Act would remove obstacles for veterans suffering from these hidden wounds of war, including cancer, hypertension, skin disease, and other conditions.
“The PACT Act essentially regards these kinds of illnesses and inflictions as part of the cost of war, and it puts the presumption of service-connected cause on the side of veterans, because many of them are making claims after the fact, indeed, well after they have left the battlefield. The proof is much more difficult for them to make and much easier for the VA to resist,” Blumenthal said describing the obstacles faced by veterans.
“This measure is not only an important milestone as legislation, but it also represents an opportunity to educate our country about invisible wounds, about brave men and women who serve in combat and come home without necessarily a visible wound but experience a different kind of hardship and burden,” Blumenthal continued. “Their sacrifice must be recognized. They need healthcare and they deserve it. And the benefits that they are receiving as a result of this measure are extraordinarily and deeply well-deserved and should be available promptly.”
Ahead of the vote, the daughter of the late Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson, whom the bill is named after, wrote Blumenthal a note asking him to vote yes on, “my dad’s bill.” Blumenthal responded, saying:
“Let there be no mistake, I am going to be voting yes on this bill and I hope that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will overwhelmingly join me in voting yes.”
— U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) hosted a roundtable with professionals from the VA and private sector to discuss cybersecurity measures for our veterans’ healthcare system.
“Safeguarding our veterans’ sensitive personal records & medical information is incredibly important. Today I convened a roundtable of VA & private sector stakeholders to exchange ideas about how to best secure & shield the VA health care system from cyberattacks.”
IMPROVING MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY
— U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, issued the following joint statement after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) upgraded its investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot system from a preliminary evaluation to an engineering analysis after identifying additional crashes at first responder sites:
“We are encouraged that NHTSA has escalated its probe into Tesla’s Autopilot after discovering even more crashes that point to a disturbing, deadly pattern. The agency must swiftly complete this important investigation to determine if a recall is necessary while taking all steps in its power to prevent any more lives from being lost. NHTSA’s findings will be essential to improving the safety of automated driving and advanced driver assistance systems for the sake of public safety. Every day that Tesla disregards safety rules and misleads the public about its Autopilot system, our roads become more dangerous.”
Blumenthal and Markey also joined 12 of their colleagues in a letter to Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg, highlighting the skyrocketing rates of motor vehicle fatalities and the need for swift action to reverse this disturbing trend. While the Senators acknowledge that the Department of Transportation took an important step to address this safety crisis by publishing its National Roadway Safety Strategy, which aims to eliminate all crash fatalities and increase road safety, they urge DOT to expedite its deadlines for implementing life-saving safety regulations authorized under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
“In May, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 42,915 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2021, up 10.5 percent since 2020 and a shocking 32 percent since 2011,” wrote the Senators. “Despite new technology and safety features, roads are becoming more dangerous for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and other roadway users. We urge the Department of Transportation to continue to prioritize roadway safety and promptly employ new regulatory authorities Congress provided in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to reverse this disturbing trend.”
STRENGTHENING OUR DEMOCRACY
— U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) joined eight of their colleagues in introducing legislation to make registering to vote easier for all Americans. The Register America to Vote Act would require every state to create a system to register all eligible citizens to vote when they turn 18 and ensure all eligible voters are covered by automatic registration through motor vehicle agencies. Automatic voter registration is a proven policy, with 22 states and the District of Columbia having already authorized or implemented automatic voter registration systems.
— U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) joined 14 of their colleagues in urging U.S. intelligence agencies to prepare to combat Russian disinformation campaigns targeting the upcoming 2022 midterm elections.
“As the Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to an increase in Russian disinformation and warnings of potential cyberattacks, we urge you to ensure that your agencies are prepared to quickly and effectively counter Russian influence campaigns targeting the 2022 elections…Experts have warned that the increase in Russian disinformation and cyber threats creates a security concern for U.S. elections and that Russia will likely view the 2022 elections as a “ripe target” for influence operations,” the senators wrote.
EVENTS AROUND CONNECTICUT
— U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) joined local leaders and environmental advocates in Seymour urging Hydroland to act on long-term issues of non-compliance at the Kinneytown Dam. Leaders urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to implement swift action to restore safe and effective fish passage along the Naugatuck River from Long Island Sound to Thomaston. The Kinneytown Dam is the one major roadblock to significant fish passage and Hydroland has failed to take the most basic steps to address this longstanding problem.
“Hydroland’s failures have environmental and economic impacts up and down the Naugatuck Valley,” said Blumenthal. “Their repeated violations and refusal to enable the safe passage and migration of fish is unacceptable. FERC must do the right thing – take action now and revoke Hydroland’s license.”
— U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) attended Middletown’s Pride March.
“A rousing, rollicking success—the Pride March in Middletown drew exuberant crowds. Proud & loud, & very inspiring. Thank you all!”
— U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) attended the commencement ceremonies for Goodwin University and Charter Oak State College.
“Goodwin University’s Commencement was a spectacular celebration of achievement & aspiration. CT needs these brave, determined graduates with extraordinary skills & work ethic. Thank you President Mark Scheinberg & your great team.”
“Charter Oak State College’s Class of 2022 was certainly celebrating with gusto & gratitude today! It’s online classes open new careers & communities for students of all ages, who often have jobs, families, & other obligations. Congratulations!”
— U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) attended the Little Poland Festival in New Britain.
“Little Poland Festival is back big time! Wonderful food, music, costumes, & more. Honored to share the stage with leaders—saluting our Polish American community & their generous support for brave, dedicated Ukrainians. Thanks to all who made it possible!”
— U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) attended the 125th anniversary celebration of St. Peter & St. Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ansonia.
“Wonderful to join parishioners yesterday in celebrating the 125th Anniversary of St. Peter & St. Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church—reaffirming it as a spiritual anchor & community touchstone & also reemphasizing support for Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion. More US aid is vital.”