CHIPS: INVESTING IN HIGH-TECH JOBS & INNOVATION
— U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) applauded the Senate’s bipartisan passage of the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America (CHIPS) and Science Act. The legislation will provide $52 billion in grants for semiconductor manufacturing and research, create well-paying manufacturing and technology jobs in Connecticut, spur innovation, fight inflation and address the shortage of semiconductor chips. Semiconductors are essential components of electronic devices and are critical to the defense and auto industries. The United States used to lead semiconductor manufacturing, but currently only produces 12 percent of the world’s supply.
The legislation included several provisions Blumenthal championed to help address sexual harassment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and to support researchers from historically underrepresented populations early in their career based on his Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act and Supporting Early-Career Researchers Act:
“This momentous measure is the most impactful technology step in recent history for high-tech job creation and economic growth in our state and others. It will spur innovation, fight inflation, and increase high-tech manufacturing and jobs—in Connecticut and around the country. At my urging, it includes provisions to fight sexual harassment in STEM fields and to support young scientists whose careers have been impacted by the pandemic. This legislation will make it easier for women and other underrepresented groups to thrive by tackling the deep inequities that exist in STEM fields, will support the next generation of talented scientists, and invest in American invention and progress.”
PROTECTING KIDS ONLINE
— Blumenthal issued the following statement following the Senate Commerce Committee’s unanimous bipartisan passage of the Kids Online Safety Act.
“This unanimous bipartisan vote marks a momentous step toward holding Big Tech accountable for putting profits above kids’ safety,” said Blumenthal. “We have heard the harrowing accounts about how Big Tech essentially betrayed its trust using black box algorithms to drive destructive content to children—content about the self-harm, substance abuse, bullying, addiction, and simply horrible pain. This measure gives back control to children and parents over their online lives. Big Tech may resist, with armies of lobbyists and lawyers, but this unanimous vote reflects how Americans feel. Along with my partner in this effort, Senator Blackburn, I will continue fighting for this bill’s swift Senate passage.”
The introduction of the Kids Online Safety Act followed reporting and a series of subcommittee hearings spearheaded by Blumenthal and U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) with social media companies and advocates on the repeated failures by tech giants to protect kids on their platforms and about the dangers kids face online. The legislation would provide kids and parents with tools, safeguards, and transparency they need to protect against threats to children’s health and well-being online. It requires social media platforms to put the interests of children first, providing an environment that is safe by default and help prevent these destructive impacts. The legislation also requires independent audits and supports public scrutiny from experts and academic researchers to ensure that parents and policymakers know whether social media platforms are taking meaningful steps to address risks to kids. More information on the legislation can be found here.
DEMANDING ANSWERS ON MLB’S ANTITRUST EXEMPTIONS & THEIR IMPACT ON MINOR LEAGUE TEAMS
— Blumenthal visited Dunkin Donuts Park in Hartford and Thomas J. Dodd Stadium in Norwich to call for scrutiny of Major League Baseball’s unique antitrust exemption and its impact on Minor League Baseball teams like the Hartford Yard Goats and Norwich Sea Unicorns.
For the past 100 years, Major League Baseball has enjoyed an antitrust exemption that has provided significant benefits to the league. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is examining that exemption and its effect on team contraction, lockouts, work stoppages, treatment of international prospects and player wages.
In 2021, Blumenthal introduced the Minor League Baseball Relief Act to provide emergency assistance to Minor League Baseball teams who were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Blumenthal also led the bipartisan Save Minor League Baseball Act and efforts to call upon MLB to abandon its plan to cut 40 minor league teams in 2020, including the Norwich Sea Unicorns.
“America’s pastime deserves fairness for all baseball players & minor league teams. Today I am calling on Commissioner Manfred to answer questions about MLB’s unique antitrust exemption & how it is stifling pay for MiLB players & opportunities for teams.”
PROTECTING KIDS FROM INGESTING BUTTON BATTERIES
— Blumenthal and U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), lead Senate sponsors of Reese’s Law, bipartisan legislation to strengthen safety standards for products with button batteries frequently found in everyday items, issued the following joint statement after the House of Representatives passed the legislation. The bill now awaits action in the Senate.
Named in honor of Reese Hamsmith, an 18-month-old child who died after ingesting a button cell battery from a remote control, the legislation would protect children from these small button cell and coin batteries found in common household items including cameras, calculators, battery-operated candles, flashing apparel, and even greeting cards. If swallowed, these batteries can pose a serious danger to young children and infants, and can cause serious injuries, severe internal burns, or even death.
“The approval of Reese’s Law in the House brings us one step closer toward strengthening small battery safety standards—and bolstering kids’ safety. No family should have to worry about seemingly harmless household items causing irreversible damage and injury to their kids,” said Blumenthal and Blackburn, Chair and Ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security. “The tragic story of Reese Hamsmith we heard in our subcommittee last year showed the serious danger these small but powerful batteries can pose to kids. Reese’s Law will give the CPSC the necessary tools to strengthen common sense safety standards by requiring child-resistant battery compartments and warning labels on everyday products. We’re proud to have introduced this legislation as Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Consumer Protection Subcommittee and urge the Senate to swiftly approve this important measure.”
SUPPORTING UKRAINE’S FIGHT FOR FREEDOM
— Blumenthal and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) applauded passage of a 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. Approved unanimously by the Senate, the resolution encouraging the secretary of state to adopt the designation would bar more imports into Russia, punish governments that continue to trade with Russia, and increase the risks and costs for businesses that remain in the country. It would also trigger an exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, possibly forcing Russia to face both compensatory damages and punitive action in U.S. courts for its support of terrorism.
“This designation is more than just symbolism – it has practical significance. I join in urging the Administration to heed this call…on this point, Americans are united. We’re backing Ukraine, we have your back. Your adversary is a state sponsor of terrorism. That’s the message I hope will come from Congress, and I respectfully suggest to the Secretary of State that he should follow that lead and heed that call, because this moment is one that uniquely calls for that kind of leadership,” said Blumenthal.
“Every time I think of this resolution, I have in my mind President Zelenskyy’s face as we presented him with a framed copy of the resolution. It’s difficult for me to overstate the sense of gratitude and even admiration as we presented him with this resolution which really marks a vote of support and confidence in the people of Ukraine as well as a condemnation of Vladimir Putin.”
Blumenthal and Graham also published an op-ed in The Hill about their resolution.
“The fields of Bucha — sites of mass graves where hundreds of women and children were murdered by Russian soldiers who tied their hands behind their backs and killed them — will be impossible to forget. Two weeks ago, we visited them, after speaking at length with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, hearing his plea for more help in arms, humanitarian assistance and economic sanctions,” wrote Blumenthal and Graham.
“Since beginning its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Russian attacks have struck hospitals, theaters, apartment blocks, hotels, and shopping malls — purposefully, systematically killing thousands of innocent civilians,” the senators continued. “Russia’s campaign of ruthless aggression is meant to brutalize the people of Ukraine. It is meant to harm civilians. It is meant to cause fear. It is terrorism.”
Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also met with members of the Connecticut Ukrainian-American community to outline the path forward and call for swift Senate action on increased aid.
INVESTING IN ELECTRIC BOAT AND MAINTAINING THE USS HARTFORD
— Blumenthal released a statement following the U.S. Navy’s award of a contract to Electric Boat to perform maintenance on the USS HARTFORD.
“I am extremely pleased that the Navy has awarded the USS HARTFORD maintenance availability to Electric Boat. This is the first such contract to EB since the USS MONTPELIER in 2015 and I am confident that EB will execute on time and on budget. This work is critical to building and maintaining our incredible workforce and highlights their ability to perform extremely complicated maintenance and construction work at Groton. The Navy has made the right choice – our Connecticut workforce stands ready to bring this boat named after our state capitol back to fleet as soon as possible. Awarded maintenance contracts to the private shipyards reduce the maintenance backlog of these national assets while keeping critical workers employed in crafting these critical assets.”
STANDING UP FOR OUR VETERANS
— Blumenthal reacted to Senate Republicans blocking passage of the PACT Act, comprehensive legislation to deliver multiple generations of veterans exposed to dangerous toxins access to healthcare and benefits under the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Senate Republicans turned their backs on our veterans & denied millions life-saving health care. These 25 senators are playing political games with the PACT Act. Our veterans exposed to toxic burn pits desperately need these benefits.”
PREVENTING GUN VIOLENCE
— Blumenthal and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) joined eight of their Senate colleagues in introducing legislation to combat the increased use and proliferation of dangerous gun conversion devices. The Preventing Illegal Weapons Trafficking Act would help tackle the ongoing gun violence epidemic by requiring federal law enforcement to coordinate efforts to prevent the importation and trafficking of “auto-sears” — and other illegal gun modification devices that can convert semi-automatic weapons into fully-automatic weapons — and seize all profits that come from the illegal trafficking of these devices.
“This measure will crack down on dangerous firearm modification devices that threaten public safety,” said Blumenthal. “Access to cheap, easy to use conversion tools allows common firearms to be turned into fully-automatic weapons of war. Our legislation will prevent trafficking and seize the profits of wrongdoers intent on causing harm – key efforts needed to address our nation’s gun violence epidemic.”
PROTECTING REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
— Blumenthal joined U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Tina Smith (D-MN) in introducing the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act, which would repeal the 1973 Helms Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act to ensure that U.S. foreign assistance may be used to provide the full scope of comprehensive health care, including safe and legal access to abortion services. The bill also includes language clarifying that under U.S. government policy, safe abortion care is a critical component of comprehensive maternal and reproductive care.
“This legislation will increase global access to safe reproductive health care and family planning services,” said Blumenthal. “With reproductive rights under assault as never before, repealing the harmful Helms Amendment is necessary to ensure women have the freedom to make decisions about their bodies and futures. Funding for these comprehensive, affordable services is essential to the health and economic wellbeing of women around the world.”
— Blumenthal joined U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and 21 of their colleagues in a letter calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to take immediate administrative action to offer abortions and all abortion-related services to veterans and eligible dependents. Under current VA regulations, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is prohibited from providing abortions and abortion counseling as part of the medical benefits package. In a letter sent to VA Secretary Denis McDonough, the members highlight that because the VA has the statutory authority to provide abortions, they therefore must immediately begin a rulemaking process to change the current regulations and update the VHA’s medical benefit package to provide abortion and abortion-related services.
“Last month’s disastrous Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned the nearly fifty-year precedent established by Roe v. Wade and removed constitutional protection for abortion access from millions of individuals in this country, including an ever-growing number of veterans and dependents who are able to become pregnant,” wrote the lawmakers. “This decision makes it even more critical that veterans receive access to the reproductive care to which they are entitled. Thus, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) must urgently begin rulemaking to allow veterans and eligible dependents to receive abortions and all abortion-related services.”
— Blumenthal spoke on the Senate Floor after Republicans blocked passage of the Right to Contraception Act, legislation that would safeguard Americans’ right to access and use contraception; guarantee medical providers’ ability to inform their patients of and disseminate a range of contraception options, including emergency contraceptives; and provide the Department of Justice and others the legal recourse to enforce this right as states across the nation rollback bedrock privacy protections.
“By vetoing our attempt to swiftly pass the Right to Contraception Act, Republicans made crystal clear that they are willing to deny women access to birth control. They are adamant about dragging our country back to a time when women had little or no autonomy over having children.”
“I’ll continue to fight to prevent this horror from becoming a reality. We won’t give up on the Right to Contraception Act & will keep doing all we can to provide certainty & reassurance to Americans across the nation that they have a choice about starting a family.”
EMPOWERING YOUTH THROUGH ARTS EDUCATION
— Blumenthal announced a grant for the Queen Ann Nzinga Center in New Britain to empower youth through multidisciplinary arts education. The funding, from the National Endowment for the Arts, will be used for the center’s Watoto program, which uses the power of song and dance to build a strong positive self-image in children.
“Fantastic to be at the Queen Ann Nzinga Center yesterday to celebrate the $10K federal grant for their youth art program, which will nurture young people’s creativity & foster their self-confidence. This investment in the next generation of talent is worth every penny.”
PROVIDING BORROWERS WITH STUDENT LOAN RELIEF
— Blumenthal joined U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. Representatives Lauren Underwood (D-IL), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) House in a letter urging the Biden Administration to extend the student loan payment pause beyond August 31, 2022. This effort comes on the heels of several news reports that the Biden Administration has not made a final decision about whether to extend the student loan payment pause – a decision that will affect millions of student loan borrowers. The letter was also signed by over 100 members of the House and Senate.
“For over two years, the Department has provided critical flexibility to millions of federal student loan borrowers by pausing payments, as many have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic. This much needed pause has helped many borrowers to keep a roof over their heads, secure childcare, and purchase food, health care, and medicine during the course of a pandemic responsible for the deaths of more than 1 million people in the U.S.,” wrote more than 100 lawmakers to President Joe Biden and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “For the first time, many borrowers have had the opportunity to pay down debt, open a savings account, purchase a home, and save for retirement—none of which would have been possible without the payment pause.”
STRENGTHENING BEHAVIORAL HEALTH COVERAGE
— Blumenthal and Murphy joined 12 of their Senate colleagues in reintroducing the Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act, legislation that would strengthen oversight and enforcement of federal parity laws.
“While mental health parity has been the law for many years, Connecticut families have been continually denied benefits for critical health diagnostic and treatment services. This vital legislation will help break down one of the biggest barriers to accessing mental and behavioral health care -- insurer refusal to cover the cost of such care -- through much needed transparency and accountability,” said Blumenthal.
BOLSTERING CLEAN ENERGY
— Blumenthal and Murphy joined 18 of their colleagues in a letter to Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee Chair, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), requesting the committee support President Biden’s use of the Defense Production Act to strengthen the U.S. solar panel supply chain by including funding to the maximum extent possible in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Energy and Water Appropriations bill. Without domestic renewable energy manufacturing, consumers are denied access to cost-effective, clean energy options. Depending on foreign manufacturers adds risks to power grids and slows the progress of domestic clean energy projects—projects that are critical to tackling climate chaos.
“Manufacturing the components and building the supply chains to power the transition to a clean energy economy will protect America’s national security, including averting the worst impacts of the climate crisis, while creating thousands of high-quality manufacturing jobs here in the United States,” wrote the lawmakers. “As the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent recovery have demonstrated, depending on foreign supplies chains for essential goods threatens America’s economic and national security. Issuing these Presidential Determinations to “accelerate domestic production of clean energy technologies” is an important step towards achieving this future. The House FY 2023 Energy and Water appropriations bill proposes a significant, $100 million, investment to meet this need.”
SUPPORTING THE 9/11 FAMILIES’ PURSUIT OF JUSTICE
— U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) released the statement below ahead of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tournament being held at Trump National Golf Club this weekend in Bedminster, New Jersey:
“I remain deeply troubled by the Saudi government’s ongoing efforts to sports-wash its reputation and divert attention away from its officials’ involvement in malign activities: the murder of Jamal Khashoggi; the war in Yemen; support for terrorist activities, including the September 11 attacks; and other human rights violations.”
“This weekend, the Saudi campaign of distraction continues at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. With a stunning lack of sensitivity to the families and of their own role, this event will be just miles from Ground Zero, where almost 3,000 Americans were killed by terrorists that newly disclosed evidence has linked to Saudi government officials.”
“I support the 9/11 families’ pursuit of justice and remain committed to holding Saudi Arabia accountable for its actions.”
CELEBRATING MARIA ARAÚJO KAHN’S NOMINATION TO THE SECOND CIRCUIT
— Blumenthal and Murphy applauded President Biden’s nomination of Maria Araújo Kahn to fill a vacancy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Consisting of thirteen judges, the Second Circuit is one of thirteen appeals courts across the country and exercises appellate jurisdiction within Connecticut, New York, and Vermont.
“Justice Kahn’s vast legal experience and history of public service makes her the perfect fit for the Second Circuit,” said Blumenthal. “From her time as a public defender representing indigent children and federal prosecutor investigating fraud, to her service across multiple levels of the state bench, she has been a steadfast advocate for justice and accountability. An immigrant to the United States and role model for other judges across Connecticut, Justice Kahn is an inspiration that represents the best of our state. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I look forward to championing and supporting her nomination.”
ADVOCATING FOR FEDERAL FUNDING FOR CONNECTICUT
— Blumenthal and Murphy announced the inclusion of over $107 million for Connecticut Congressionally Directed Spending projects in eight bills posted by the Senate Appropriations Committee. These bills are not yet final, and funding will only be made available when the appropriations are passed by Congress and signed into law. However, the Appropriations Committee’s selection of these projects is an important first step towards securing federal funding. Blumenthal and Murphy are committed to pushing for passage of these bills and ensuring Connecticut priorities are reflected in the final spending package.
“This potential funding will pack a powerful punch for CT’s economic growth and quality of life. These requests represent millions of dollars in funding that Connecticut has asked me to fight for in D.C. and bring home for critical infrastructure projects and social services. From reducing gun violence to improving transportation infrastructure to job training and much more, these projects make important and invaluable contributions not only to their communities, but to our state as a whole. Senator Murphy and I will continue advocating and fighting for these projects and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass the appropriations bill so these organizations can get to work doing what they do best,” said Blumenthal.
RESTORING POLICY MAKING POWER TO THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
— Blumenthal joined U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in introducing the Supreme Court Review Act, a new bill to revitalize Congress’s ability to legislate in response to Supreme Court decisions that interpret federal statutes or roll back constitutional rights. The Senators’ bill would help ensure that the constitutionally delegated power to make policy remains with Congress, not the Court, by creating streamlined procedures through which Congress can exercise its existing power to amend statutes or create federal statutory rights.
EVENTS AROUND CONNECTICUT
— Blumenthal joined a remembrance ceremony honoring Korean War veterans in Waterbury.
“A moving annual Remembrance Ceremony honoring Korean War Veterans—thanks to the Waterbury Veterans Memorial Committee. On the Green, we resolved again never to forget brave Americans who fought this often forgotten war, & so many heroes tragically lost.”
— Blumenthal visited the Pathfinders Motorcycle Club to thank them for their efforts in cleaning up trails around Connecticut.
“As good environmental stewards, the Pathfinders Motorcycle Club are enhancing trails at Thomaston Dam—with help from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers & Yamaha Motor Corp. I was inspired to see their hands on work in this beautiful CT treasure.”
— Blumenthal attended a rally in support of reproductive rights in Hartford.
“Yesterday morning’s Hartford rally of activists for SCOTUS reform was a compelling call to action. Consideration of term limits & increased Justice numbers has wider discussion than ever. Recusal, ethics & disclosure rules are a must, along w/more federal lower court judgeships.”