ADDRESSING THE SUPREME COURT’S ATTACK ON REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
— U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), author and lead Senate sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), released the following statement after the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey today in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, eliminating the right to an abortion:
“In overturning Roe, the Court strips women of the freedom to make their own healthcare decisions and puts that power in the hands of the government.”
“A woman no longer has the right to decide when and whether to bear children. In fact, if Mitch McConnell is in charge, he’ll be leading a national ban on abortion, shredding laws in Connecticut and other states protecting women’s choice.”
“Every American should have the right to decide whether and when to have children. Politicians do not know better than women what kind of care they need from their physicians. The government should never be allowed to dictate decisions about pregnancy that should remain between a woman and her doctor. The government should not be able to impose a forced pregnancy on anyone – especially a pregnancy that is the result of abuse or rape or threatens their life.”
PASSING HISTORIC GUN SAFETY LEGISLATION
— Blumenthal applauded Senate passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, legislation to prevent gun violence and invest in mental health resources, by a vote of 65-33:
“After thirty years, hundreds of thousands of gun deaths and dozens of failed pieces of gun safety legislation, we have finally taken one step forward.”
“Ten years ago, when the Senate failed to pass background check reform after 20 beautiful, innocent children and six brave educators were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the families of those killed yelled “shame!” from the Senate Gallery. Today, when the United States Senate passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, it wasn’t shouts of “shame!” that came from the Senate Gallery; it was shouts of relief that we are finally, at long last, doing our jobs.”
“This is not the measure I fought for would or would have written if I were acting alone, but it marks meaningful progress. It will save lives. If you wait for everything in the Senate, you’ll get nothing – and progress is better than nothing. I am proud to have helped draft this legislation and I am proud to have voted for it.”
“After the activist Supreme Court once again legislated from the bench this morning and struck down a decades old gun violence prevention law, it has never been more necessary for Congress to continue to legislate for a safer America.”
Ahead of the vote, Blumenthal spoke on the Senate Floor about the importance of the measure.
“The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is [a] significant step forward that responds to the nation's sense of urgency to get something done,” said Blumenthal, one of the lead negotiators of the legislative package. “This measure will save lives…and I'll be proud to vote for it today.”
Citing the bill’s measures to support red flag laws, shrink the boyfriend loophole, cut down on trafficking and straw purchases, and support community violence intervention programs, Blumenthal discussed both the measure’s meaningful progress, and the work that remains to be done to address America’s gun violence epidemic.
“This bill is a breakthrough that builds foundation for the future. It opens the door, and hopefully it will show colleagues who have perhaps been reluctant to stand up to the gun lobby in the past and help maintain the vice-like grip of that gun lobby on the Congress that their power is done. They have not only waned in their impact, but their intimidation and threats will no longer hold sway here,” Blumenthal said.
“It is a proud moment for the United States Senate.”
Blumenthal also hosted a round table with Hartford community violence intervention groups to talk strategy about gun violence prevention through their groups.
RESPONDING TO THE SUPREME COURT’S DANGEROUS DECISION ON GUNS
— Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released the following statement after the Supreme Court handed down its decision invalidating New York’s restrictions on carrying firearms in public:
“This deeply destructive decision will unleash even more gun violence on American communities. Instead of upholding common-sense safeguards to reduce gun violence, it will only put more guns in public spaces and open the floodgates to invalidate sensible gun safety laws in more states. Worse yet, it is a significant step backwards at a moment when horrendous shootings happen across our country every day, taking too many beautiful lives and terrorizing generations of Americans.”
“This opinion in no way impugns the Constitutionality of the common-sense Bipartisan Safer Communities Act that the Senate should approve this week. As gun violence soars, Congress must heed the will of the majority of Americans who support gun safety measures and break the legislative logjam to stop this senseless violence. This activist Supreme Court is once again legislating from the bench, but Congress must continue to legislate for a safer America.”
HIGHLIGHTING FEDERAL FUNDING FOR COMMUNITIES ACROSS CONNECTICUT
— Blumenthal announced $194,400 in federal funding for CitySeed to improve food access and encourage the growth of food retailers in the Dixwell neighborhood of New Haven. The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative and will allow CitySeed and a broad partnership of local organizations including Dixwell Community House (Q House) to empower and support local economic development through food in New Haven.
— Blumenthal announced $70,000 in federal funding for the Simsbury Police Department to make critical upgrades to their technology. The $70,000 funding award will improve connectivity to criminal justice information systems at the federal, state and local level and enhance critical infrastructures to strengthen public safety, transparency and accountability. The requested funds will support technology that is already in place.
— Blumenthal announced $75,000 in funding for Artspace New Haven to support a series of citywide open studio events and artist-led activities that will showcase the diverse culture of the city. The funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts and will allow Artspace to hold exhibitions, pop-up art activities and other events in New Haven.
“Thrilled to be at Artspace New Haven to announce $75,000 in federal funding to support citywide open studio events, artist-led activities, & the Open Source Festival. The creativity on display through this initiative is a spectacular showcase of New Haven's vibrant culture.”
PROTECTING KIDS FROM DANGEROUS PRODUCTS
— Blumenthal, Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, and U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, led a group of 13 Members of Congress, including U.S. Representative Jahana Hayes (D-CT), in demanding answers from Fisher-Price after rockers made by the company have been linked to at least 13 infant deaths between 2009 and 2021. Last week, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning about the hazards posed by two types of Fisher-Price rockers linked to at least 13 infant deaths between 2009 and 2021.
“[W]e have questions about how Fisher Price handled product and death reports, and why this information failed to reach the CPSC sooner,” wrote the Members of Congress in a letter to Fisher-Price parent company Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz. “It is also apparent that Fisher Price, even after CPSC was made aware of infant deaths, sought to delay release of this data to the public. CPSC Commissioner Richard Trumka, Jr. stated that CPSC ‘fought an uphill battle to release this information to warn parents and caregivers.’ This is unacceptable.”
In their letter, the Members of Congress emphasized the need to strengthen CPSC authority so that warnings about dangerous products and their recalls can be issued more swiftly, writing: “Fisher Price’s actions, or inactions, make a perfect case for why CPSC’s authority to issue recalls and warnings for consumers, independent of manufacturers, needs to be strengthened and reformed.”
— Blumenthal joined U.S. Representatives Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) and Kim Schrier M.D. (D-WA) in introducing the bicameral Magnet Injury Prevention Act to ban small, high-powered magnets following reports of severe intestinal trauma due to accidental ingestion in the United States. These high-powered magnets pose life-threatening risks to adolescent children with two reported deaths, numerous serious injuries and over 4,500 hospital visits. Most victims are between 11 months and 16 years old.
“Thousands of children have suffered severe internal injuries and even death after accidentally swallowing small but powerful magnets,” said Blumenthal. “This important measure would help keep them away from kids. I am pushing for this ban on magnets that pose a deadly serious threat to kids.”
ADDRESSING NFL TEAM WASHINGTON COMMANDERS’ SEXUAL HARASSMENT, ABUSE & WORKPLACE MISCONDUCT
— Blumenthal called on National Football League (NFL) Commissioner Roger Goodell to publicly release the results of Attorney Beth Wilkinson’s independent investigation into mismanagement by Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder and others within the organization. The letter follows this week’s House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing examining the NFL’s handling of the team’s reported wrongdoing and gross workplace misconduct, including multiple instances of sexual harassment and abuse.
“I write to request the League swiftly and publicly release the results of the investigation it commissioned into mismanagement at the Commanders organization,” wrote Blumenthal. “I am appalled by the additional information released by House Oversight Reform Committee, which demonstrates that Snyder created a hostile work environment through misconduct and then engaged in a legal campaign to cover up his actions.”
Reports of verbal abuse and a pervasive culture of sexual harassment and misogyny created by Commanders owner Snyder and senior staff were investigated by Wilkinson, eventually leading to the league fining the Commanders $10 million. However, the NFL refused to release a written report detailing the findings, which Blumenthal called, “confounding and frankly inexcusable,” and “a departure from how the league has handled investigations in the past.”
Citing this lack of transparency and failure to publicly address these troubling allegations, Blumenthal called on the NFL to release complete and accurate information to the public, telling Goodell, “Anything less is an unacceptable abdication of your responsibility.”
“As Commissioner, it is your job to guarantee that everyone associated with the NFL – from owners to players to personnel – are held accountable for wrongdoing. Your failure to release the findings of the Wilkinson investigation to the public is a failure to hold Snyder and the Commanders organization accountable,” Blumenthal concluded.
SUPPORTING A FEDERAL GAS TAX SUSPENSION
— Blumenthal released the following statement in support of President Biden’s announcement urging Congress to approve a three-month suspension of the 18.4 cent per gallon federal gas tax.
“I’ve urged for months that the federal gas tax be suspended and commend President Biden’s support for this action. The savings from this measure must be passed along to consumers – not hoarded by major companies – to make a measurable difference at the pump.”
“After this good first step, more must be done to combat Big Oil’s rising prices and profits. I’m demanding a windfall profits tax to give hundreds of dollars back to consumers through quarterly rebates because Big Oil companies continue to pocket record profits while consumers pay sky high prices. As I’ve advocated, we must stop price gouging with new powerful FTC enforcement tools, and pressure OPEC and producers sitting on unused leases to increase supply. Congress must take swift action to provide meaningful relief to American communities. Republicans should join us in passing this measure.”
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. To deliver relief to consumers, Blumenthal has cosponsored the Gas Prices Relief Act to temporarily suspending the federal gas tax through the end of the year; the Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax Act to curb profiteering by oil companies; and the Price Gouging Prevention Act to authorize the FTC and state attorneys general to enforce a federal ban against unconscionably excessive price increases.
REDUCING TOBACCO’S HARMS
— Blumenthal, Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, released the following statement after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered Juul Labs Inc. to take its e-cigarettes off the U.S. market:
“The FDA is rightly removing Juul’s addictive e-cigarettes from store shelves, as I have urged for years. Juul is reprehensibly responsible for hooking a new generation of Americans on nicotine with manipulative marketing and flavored products, taking a page from Big Tobacco’s playbook and putting profits over people. This is an essential step in the fight against Big Tobacco to ensure Americans, young and old, can break free from nicotine’s harmful hold.”
Blumenthal has long fought to protect the public from Big Tobacco’s harms, including introducing the bicameral Preventing Opportunities for Teen E-Cigarette and Tobacco Addiction (PROTECT) Act to curb youth e-cigarette use and address the tobacco epidemic harming millions of teens across the country and holding a hearing on Juul’s deceptive and manipulative marketing. At this August 2021 hearing, Blumenthal reiterated his call for FDA action to deny Juul access to the market.
— Blumenthal applauded the news that the FDA is set to propose lower nicotine levels in cigarettes.
“More than three decades ago, when I first advocated for nicotine reduction, it was deemed politically unrealistic. Finally the FDA is taking action.”
— Blumenthal released the following statement in celebration of Juneteenth, the federal holiday commemorating the emancipation of all slaves in the United States.
“Juneteenth is a reminder of our nation’s ongoing fight for freedom, justice, and equity. This holiday recognizes our commitment to uplifting Black history and heritage. Juneteenth is a time for not only celebration, but for somber reflection on the experiences of generations of Black Americans. Today, we honor the trailblazers and heroes who never gave up the fight to ensure our country lives up to its ideals.”
Juneteenth was declared a federal holiday by President Biden last year and a state holiday by Governor Ned Lamont last month. Juneteenth marks the day two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to ensure all formerly enslaved people were freed. Juneteenth is the longest running holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States.
Blumenthal also attended a Juneteenth flag raising outside the State Capitol.
“Honored to join the First Annual #Juneteenth Flag Raising today in Hartford. This moving ceremony recognizes our commitment to uplifting Black history & heritage, while also serving as a reminder of our nation’s ongoing fight for freedom, justice, & equality.”
CELEBRATING THE FIRST NATIVE AMERICAN U.S. TREASURER
— Blumenthal reacted to Marilynn “Lynn” Malerba’s appointment to serve as Treasurer of the United States.
“A well-deserved recognition for Marilynn Malerba, Mohegan Tribe Lifetime Chief. As Treasurer she'll oversee the new Office of Tribal & Native Affairs & be the 1st Native American to sign our currency. She’s a great public servant, wise leader & treasured friend.”
PROTECTING STUDENT INTERNET ACCESS
— Blumenthal joined U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and U.S. Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) in a letter urging Congressional leadership to support their efforts to secure additional funding for the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), a crucial program created under the American Rescue Plan that has provided more than 12.5 million students access to the Internet over the past year.
The Federal Communications Commission recently announced that the most recent round of applications for ECF funds totaled $2.8 billion, nearly double the $1.5 billion that remains available for the program. Without additional funds, the ECF will be unable to meet demand from schools and libraries that provide students with the broadband connection they need to do their schoolwork, communicate with their peers and teachers, and apply to college.
“To avoid this great disconnection and prevent the reversal of ECF’s hard-earned gains in closing the homework gap for so many rural, low-income, Black, Brown, Hispanic, Latino, Asian American, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander students and their teachers, we urge you to work with us to identify and seize opportunities to provide additional funding for the Emergency Connectivity Fund,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter. “With the new school year just a few months away, we cannot allow millions of students to lose access to high-speed broadband.”
SUPPORTING OUR ALLIES IN UKRAINE
— Blumenthal and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released the following statement following committee passage of the Senate resolution they introduced affirming that the United States Senate views the actions of the government of the Russian Federation, at the direction of President Vladimir Putin, as sponsoring acts of terrorism, and calls on the Secretary of State to designate the Russian Federation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST).
“We are extremely pleased that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, under the leadership of Chairman Menendez and Ranking Member Risch, passed our resolution urging Putin’s Russia to be designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.”
“The committee vote was unanimous. We hope and strongly urge that the resolution be brought to the Senate floor as soon as possible. It is imperative Congress show support for designating Putin’s Russia as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, putting them in the same category as Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Syria. The sooner this designation is made, the better for the people of Ukraine and freedom-loving people throughout the world.”
“This bipartisan action by the United States Senate thus far has been well-received in Ukraine and hopefully will be a green light to other nations to move in this direction.”
Blumenthal also joined U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin urging him to send more advanced artillery rocket systems and ammunition to Ukraine, as the systems are vital in Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s brutal invasion.
The senators commended the decision by the Biden administration earlier this month to send M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to Ukraine, but the administration has decided to only send four – a number the senators say is far too low, given the amount of artillery Russia has at their disposal. The senators encouraged Secretary Austin to send additional systems urgently, like HIMARS or the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), in order to level the playing field for Ukraine and allow them to halt Russian advances in the Donbas region and strengthen their counteroffensives in other parts of the country.
“The outcome of Russia’s war against Ukraine will hinge on how firmly the West supports Ukrainian forces,” said the senators. “Following the incredible defeat of early Russian attempts to topple Ukraine’s elected government and seize the entire nation, battlefield needs have understandably evolved and we must be nimble in meeting these changing needs. As a result, we ask that you urgently provide a significant number of additional artillery rocket systems to Ukraine.”
UPDATING TSA GUIDELINES FOR NURSING PARENTS
— Blumenthal joined U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and 11 of their colleagues in calling on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to address inconsistent implementation of the 3-1-1 Liquids Rule Exemption travel policy for breastmilk and formula at airport security checkpoints, and ensure lactating individuals and their infants can travel safely without fear of harassment.
“In several reported cases, individuals were forced to dispose of breast milk, cooling accessories, or both in order to board their flights, others were harassed and humiliated, had expensive breast pumps destroyed, and even forced to undress,” wrote the lawmakers. “We need to understand why TSA’s policies are not being implemented properly, ensure that policies are clear and women can travel safely without fear of harassment, and provide parents access to remedies for mistreatment.”
EVENTS AROUND CONNECTICUT
— Blumenthal attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for COMPASS Peacebuilders’ new facility in Hartford. The new space will house COMPASS’s education center and their transitional employment program, which reconnects youth to educational programs whether in a traditional classroom, trade school, a GED program or obtaining professional certifications. The new facility will also provide space for COMPASS Peacebuilders to facilitate life skills and restorative justice programs.
— Blumenthal (D-CT) attended the community ribbon cutting ceremony for the ‘r kids Family Center to celebrate the completed 11,000 square foot extension to their facilities. The ‘r kids Family Center is a non-profit community agency committed to connecting children with stable and permanent homes through reunification, transfer of guardianship or adoption. To date, the center has served over 2,000 children and 1,800 parents across Connecticut.
— Blumenthal attended graduation ceremonies at W.F. Kaynor and H.C. Wilcox Technical High Schools.
“Wonderful spirit at Waterbury’s Palace Theater on Friday for the Class of 2022’s graduation from W.F. Kaynor Technical High School. You’re stars. Thanks to all your teachers & families. Honored to participate.”
“Proud to join in graduation ceremonies at H.C. Wilcox Technical High School—providing CT new, much needed skills, energy, & work ethic. Congrats Class of 2022, & all who enabled your great achievements.”