U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy is growing impatient with the partial shutdown of the federal government.
“Trump hasn’t figured out that the Democrats are in charge of the House of Representatives yet,” the Democratic senator said. “He’s shifted his position (on building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico) to being more unreasonable, not less unreasonable.”
Murphy’s choice of words reflects his general animus toward the current occupant of the Oval Office. He avoided using the term “president” — or even “mister” — when discussing Donald Trump during an interview with the Business Journal on Jan. 11, and it’s a rare occasion when a statement or action by Trump goes unanswered by a Murphy press release.
Since the shutdown began at midnight on Dec. 22, Murphy has issued six official statements and made countless public remarks, protesting the shutdown and Trump’s reasons for it. A Jan. 8 release referred to “his stupid wall.”
“(Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell brought up a bill that was passed by the Senate unanimously in December, which would have funded the government through February,” Murphy told the Business Journal. “Every single Republican supported that bill. Then Trump had his temper tantrum and several Republicans have changed their position.”
The senator noted that the lack of funding is affecting the FDA, the FBI and the TSA, not to mention the thousands of other government workers who live paycheck to paycheck. “We want the government to be open with no conditions,” he said of the Democrats. “And we think the Republicans will come around to that.”
Murphy’s feelings would seem to be shared by a large number of citizens: a CNN poll found 55 percent of respondents blaming Trump for the shutdown, compared to 32 percent for “Democrats in Congress” and 9 percent for “both.” The poll — conducted for CNN via telephone by independent research firm SSRS — involved phone interviews with 848 individuals on Jan. 10-11.
The poll also put Trump’s approval rating at 37 percent as of Jan. 10-11. That number has remained below 50 percent since Trump took office at the start of 2017.
While visiting beauty-care company Henkel in Stamford, he said, “Their employees are worried about the shutdown and have questions about Connecticut and our quality of life, no different than anyone else.
“And they’ve certainly been hurt by the nonsensical trade war that Trump has been involved in with Canada,” he continued. “They’re just one of the companies that is getting damaged by that.”
Murphy had significantly more positive things to say about Ned Lamont, Connecticut’s new governor.
“I’ve known Ned for a very long time,” the senator said. “I’ve thought for a while that he would be the perfect person to lead our state. His business background should be really helpful when it comes to growing the economy and bringing more jobs to the state.
“I hope he’ll be as big a presence in D.C. as (ex-Gov. Dannel) Malloy was,” Murphy added, noting Malloy’s success at landing various federal grants and contracts during his eight years in office.
As for his priorities this year, Murphy said he hoped a major infrastructure bill would be passed. “There’s a small number of things that Trump and the House Democrats agree on, and infrastructure could be one of them,” he remarked.
Noting that he sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Murphy said he was determined to “try and bring road and railway money back to Connecticut” this year.
As for his aspirations for higher office, Murphy said his attitude hadn’t changed from last October, when he declared he would not run for the presidency in 2020.
“I have no plans to visit Iowa or New Hampshire,” he said. “I’m flattered that I still show up on the lists (of potential candidates) but I’m focused on doing a good job for Connecticut. Plus this job (as senator) is pretty fantastic.”