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Week in CT News: State lawmakers close in on a budget, but federal delegation splits on debt deal

In this image from Senate Television, the final vote of 63-36 shows passage of the bill to raise the debt ceiling Thursday night, June 1, 2023, in the Senate at the Capitol in Washington. President Joe Biden is expected to quickly sign the bill that will stave off default.
Senate Television
In this image from Senate Television, the final vote of 63-36 shows passage of the bill to raise the debt ceiling Thursday night, June 1, 2023, in the Senate at the Capitol in Washington. President Joe Biden is expected to quickly sign the bill that will stave off default.

Debt deal brings mixed reviews for CT Democrats in U.S. Congress

Federal lawmakers have approved a long-awaited deal to raise the national debt limit. But as the United States avoids a debt default, some members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation aren’t celebrating.

Three Connecticut Democrats voted against the deal in protest over the politicization of the process.

Rep. Jahana Hayes voted no because of a Republican measure to impose work requirements on recipients of SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps. Younger people with no dependents are expected to face the requirement.

“This agreement puts nutrition programs at even greater risk in the Farm Bill and appropriations process,” Hayes said. “The provisions in this bill do not offer significant savings or reduce the deficit, yet time after time when concessions are needed it is at the expense of the poorest communities who have no one to stand up for them.”

Both U.S. Reps. John Larson and Rosa DeLauro also voted no.

DeLauro said she “would not allow a default. But this is a problematic agreement that protects billionaires from taxes and hurts middle class and working families.”

U.S. Reps. Joe Courtney and Jim Himes were “yea” votes when the U.S. House of Representatives approved the deal Wednesday.

The U.S. Senate gave final passage Thursday. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, both Democrats, also voted in support of the deal.

House Dems: Budget vote could come Monday

The Connecticut General Assembly’s 2023 legislative session ends Wednesday, June 7, and lawmakers still haven’t voted on a new two-year state budget.

Ranking Democrats in the state House of Representatives say the vote could occur Monday. They plan to pass their budget through the state legislature as one budget-implementing bill.

But Democratic Speaker of the House Matt Ritter, who represents Hartford, said Friday that the implementer can’t be completed until a vote is taken on an energy bill called “S.B. 7

The two-year pact is expected to total around $50.5 billion. Lawmakers have added $150 million in education funding, a bonus for workers within the state Department of Developmental Services, and a raise for certain nonprofit workers to gain support for the measure.

Meanwhile, Rep. Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, said he still doesn’t know what’s in a bill that lawmakers would need to pass in order to formally implement the two-year budget.

“If that implementer becomes too unwieldy, we could lose all Republican support for the budget,” Candelora said Friday.

Minority Republican leadership is concerned about “rats” getting into the budget implementer bill. That’s a term that lawmakers use when they feel their colleagues are sneaking items that might not otherwise pass the legislature into budget bills at the close of negotiations.

“That’s going to influence whether or not we’re going to be supporting this budget, so we need to have a conversation of what that implementer looks like and make sure it is actually there to implement the budget,” Candelora said. “Not to force people to vote on bad bills that they couldn’t get through this session.”

One proposal Candelora is worried will make its way into the implementer: a state plan to tackle municipal waste. Connecticut lawmakers have debated a bill to enact a waste management authority this session. The administration of Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont hopes an authority like that would craft a plan to reduce municipal waste that gets sent to landfills in other states.

Frankie & Johnny premieres Fridays at 4:44 p.m. during All Things Considered on Connecticut Public Radio. Connecticut Public's Lisa Hagen, Chris Polansky, and Patrick Skahill contributed to this report.

Frankie Graziano is the host of The Wheelhouse, focusing on how local and national politics impact the people of Connecticut.
John Henry Smith is Connecticut Public’s host of All Things Considered, its flagship afternoon news program. He's proud to be a part of the team that won a regional Emmy Award for The Vote: A Connecticut Conversation. In his 21st year as a professional broadcaster, he’s covered both news and sports.

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