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Courtney Update, 2/1/19

A Hard-Won Victory for Griswold

This week, Governor Ned Lamont announced his decision to reject the placement of a new state police gun range in Griswold, a victory for grassroots efforts that have taken place for over the past 3 years to resist this move, efforts of which my office assisted with every step of the way as the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services attempted to foist this facility on the town that had voted by an 8-1 margin in opposition to its construction.

I strongly opposed the proposal to place a new firing range in Griswold from the beginning through testimony at the state Capitol and public events with grass roots opponents such as friends of Pachaug forest. By taking this plan off the table, Governor Lamont has kept his campaign promise to the people of Griswold and the surrounding communities. I welcome his decision to take a fresh look at this issue, and in particular his focus on evaluating the use of existing ranges including the East Haven National Guard site that my office secured $14 million in 2008 to augment the training needs of our state police, an approach I’ve called for since 2015 . I’ve spoken about this issue with Governor Lamont many times, before and after he took office, and I’m grateful for his understanding and shared concern for eastern Connecticut.

Supporting Legislation to Improve Social Security

Wednesday, January 30th marked the 137th birthday of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the originator of America’s bedrock protection of the middle class: Social Security. To mark this occasion, I joined Connecticut’s own John Larson and over 200 of our colleagues in introducing the Social Security 2100 Act to enhance and expand this vital program. The Social Security 2100 Act would increase the minimum benefit for low income recipients such as retirees, orphans and the disabled, would cut taxes on social security benefits, and would implement much-needed reforms to the cost of living increase (COLA) formula to better reflect senior citizens’ budgets. It is paid for by, among other things, by asking high income Americans to finally contribute equally to the program.

Congressman Larson is the new Chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, and according to the chief actuary of Social Security, his legislation would “ensure Social Security’s solvency for at least the next 75 years,” and beyond. I’m proud to join Congressman Larson in spearheading this initiative to protect one of the most essential and fundamentally American programs in existence today.

Justice for Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans after 17 Years

This week, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that presumptive service connections under the Agent Orange Act of 1991 also apply to Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans, correcting what has been a 17-year long injustice that obstructed Blue Water Navy veterans’ from obtaining the benefits they earned through their wartime service to our country. This is welcome news and an encouraging development, and I will be following up with the VA and with Veterans Affairs Committee staff to determine the best way Congress can reinforce this ruling.

Since I first came to Congress, I have led multiple efforts to expand eligibility for compensation to Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans who are suffering from diseases which the VA has linked to Agent Orange exposure. Most recently, I helped reintroduce the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, a bill that would codify Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans’ eligibility for benefits and compensation under the Agent Orange Act. Blue water veterans have waited decades for action and fairness from the VA and from Congress, and this week’s Court of Appeals ruling is encouraging news for them and for everyone who has worked towards this correction. I look forward to working with the department to ensure our veterans can begin to access these benefits.


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