CT food, health advocates worry stopgap federal funding bill only carries them to Thanksgiving
Advocates for affordable food, housing and health care in Connecticut are sounding the alarm that the temporary federal funding bill hammered out by lawmakers over the weekend will expire just before Thanksgiving.
Republican threats to cut federal food benefits to mothers, children and the elderly are causing confusion, said Lucy Nolan, executive director of End Hunger Connecticut.
“Those families, over 48,000 in our state, depend on that type of support,” Nolan said. “I am grateful that our federal government was able to push this through, so at least we know the next 45 days we don’t have to be scrambling to figure out how we are going to continue to help support them.”
Nolan said the nutrition program for mothers and young children, known as WIC, would have taken a hard hit.
Nolan spoke Monday alongside state officials and Democratic Connecticut U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy at a federally-funded health center in New Haven.
Blumenthal said the recent budget negotiations were among the most frustrating moments in his career, because House Republicans were in a dispute against each other.
“The lesson here is that bipartisan cooperation, not partisan rants and hard-right extremists, are the way to get it done,” he said. “Bipartisanship works and it’s doable. And there’s no time to waste.”
A permanent federal funding bill could be done tomorrow, Blumenthal said, if members of the U.S. House can keep their promises.
The federal government only has 45 days before it runs out of money, and Blumenthal said that time will pass fast if fringe House Republicans continue to clash with the rest of their party.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, echoed those concerns about the state of politics among House Republicans.
“They’re trying to take the government down and it’s shocking,” Lamont said, adding that the “extremist” fringe among House Republicans has been asking to cut funding to the FBI and other matters of national security.
The temporary funding bill does not include aid to Ukraine – and Blumenthal warned that money is running out to help Ukraine to successfully defend against a Russian invasion. He said there is bipartisan support to continue aid to Ukraine in a bill, separate from the federal operating budget.
Murphy is also calling on funding for Ukraine, saying it’s important that Ukrainian allies have resources.
“Do you want Kiev to be a Ukrainian city or do you want it to be a Russian city? Because by the time we get to November, time will be up,” Murphy said.
Murphy said that a small group of Republicans is holding up progress on that bill.
“They want to tie funding for Ukraine to massive changes in our immigration laws,” Murphy said. “I don’t know why those two things are connected.”