<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Connecticut Political News, NY and CT Politics, and More]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/politics http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.comen-usTue, 28 Feb 2017 09:50:24 -0500Tue, 28 Feb 2017 09:50:24 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Trump's Big Promises Come Due in Congress Speech: Analysis]]> Tue, 28 Feb 2017 08:33:58 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/632781142-president-donald-trump-colonnade.jpg

President Donald Trump has projected plenty of confidence about taking American in a bold new direction, but more than a month into his first term, no one seems to know exactly what direction that is, NBC News reported.

He's given limited or contradictory guidance to Congress on three major parts of his agenda: health care, tax reform and infrastructure. That puts pressure on his White House to fill in the blanks when he speaks to Congress at the Capitol Tuesday night.

The speech is traditionally a platform for laying out the president's policy wish list, and Republicans will be paying close attention to how his many promises from the campaign trail will be turned into action, especially with divisions starting to show on health care reform.

"I don't think you can do big reforms without White House leadership and air cover," Douglas Holtz-Eakin, an economist and longtime adviser to Republican leaders, told NBC News. "They have to establish priorities."



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<![CDATA[New Rules Could Make Undocumented Immigrants Hide: Experts]]> Mon, 27 Feb 2017 20:52:16 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/ICE-raids.jpg

In El Paso, Texas, Carmen Ramos and her friends have developed a network to keep each other updated by text message on where immigration checkpoints have been set up.

She also makes sure she does everything by the book. From sticking to the speed limit to keeping a sharp eye on her surroundings, the 41-year-old isn't taking any chances, The Associated Press reported. In 2008, with her husband and three children, Ramos left Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, for the United States to escape drug violence and death threats. But their tourist visas have since expired.

"We are surprised that even a ticket can get us back to Mexico," Ramos told the AP. "We wouldn't have anywhere to return."

The executive order that President Donald Trump signed his first week in office takes a harsh line on immigration, one that may lead to the deterrence of immigrants' participation in public life. With undocumented immigrants under the threat of deportation by local authorities, experts say it is likely that they will shy away from any situation that may require their personal information.

"I think what we’re going to see are immigrants receding from public life in lots of ways," Lee Gelernt, a civil rights lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, told NBC. "That includes not accessing emergency services and not reporting crimes they witness, which are not good for the community as a whole."

Gelernt said ACLU lawyers will challenge aspects of the executive order as they are rolled out, but for now the order has taken the form of Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids. The ACLU is trying to determine if there have been any civil rights violations, such as racial profiling or excessive force, during these raids.

The Department of Homeland Security is taking measures to enact the sweeping actions that Trump's executive order involves. 

Although Trump has said repeatedly that the country is focused on "getting the bad ones" out of the country, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly directed ICE agents to expand their pool of undocumented immigrants to prioritize for deportation. 

In the statement issued last week about the order, the department announced it would "not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement,” meaning that law enforcement officials can detain an undocumented immigrant who has committed an offense of any kind. In 2014, former President Barack Obama implemented guidelines for deporting unauthorized immigrants that focused on gang members and convicted felons.

Kelly also directed ICE to partner with state and local authorities to investigate, apprehend and detain immigrants.

"We don't want there to be this overwhelming sense of fear or panic in these communities," DHS press secretary Gillian Christensen said. "When you look at the executive order, it's still the top priority to detain people who pose a threat to public safety or national security."

Christensen also noted that undocumented immigrants covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals progam are exempt from the executive order. 

But lawyers and advocates are warning those immigrants not to enroll in DACA for fear their information will be used to deport them, according to The Washington Post. 

And some reported incidents suggest that ICE is taking a strict approach in its detention of immigrants. On Monday, The New York Times reported that Juan Carlos Hernandez Pacheco, a well-respected restaurant owner in Illinois, was detained by authorities without a specific reason, but immigration officials noted his two drunk-driving convictions from 2007.

Another undocumented immigrant in Fort Worth, Texas, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in early February while in an ICE detention center but was returned to the center following a short stint in the hospital. The Daily Beast reported that 26-year-old immigrant crossed the border in 2015 in search of work and asylum from her native country, El Salvador. And Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos was deported to Mexico a few weeks ago after her immigration check-in—her eighth since her 2008 conviction for using a fake Social Security number to get work, CNN reported.

"Targeted enforcement, focused on actual national security threats, makes sense," William Stock, president of American Immigration Lawyers Association, said in a statement. "However, these memos, which seem to treat everyone as an enforcement priority, aren't going to make us safer, and they are already causing fear in communities across the nation."

Immigrants in the Chicago area have told the AP that they are scared to drive, and some are even wary of taking public transit. When Chicago police and federal authorities conducted regular safety checks on a train line earlier this month, many assumed it was an immigration checkpoint.

Word spread so quickly that Chicago police issued a statement assuring immigrants, "You are welcome here."

Gelernt expressed concern that the presence of the ICE agents during raids and arrests could instill fear in undocumented immigrants.

"Even if ICE is not making arrests at any moment their mere presence is going to create anxiety and fear," he said.

Michele Lamont, a Harvard professor and cultural sociologist who specializes in race, inequality and immigration, said that it would be natural for undocumented immigrants to fall into the shadows because of their perceived "undesirable" status.

"They know how they may be perceived by other Americans," she said. "The assumption that they're not good members of society can push people away from their own communities. If you know the likelihood that you will be outed, then of course privatization will be the natural reaction."

Lamont also said that Trump's executive order will likely come with "a lot of unintended consequences."



Photo Credit: LA Times via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Congress Member Opposes Bill That Would Make it Easier to Get Gun Silencer ]]> Mon, 27 Feb 2017 12:40:17 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Generic+Gun+122115.jpg

A U.S. Congress member and some Connecticut police chiefs are concerned about a bill moving through Congress that they say would make it too easy for gun owners to purchase silencers.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro was in Hamden today and expressed her opposition to H.R. 367, a bill called the “Hearing Protection Act of 2017,” which would amend the Internal Revenue Code to eliminate the $200 transfer tax on firearm silencers and treat any person who acquires or possesses a firearm silencer as meeting any registration or licensing requirements of the National Firearms Act with respect to such silencer. Any person who pays a transfer tax on a silencer after October 22, 2015, could also receive a refund of such tax. 

“To focus on hearing loss really is a cowardly way to sneak this issue through the Congress and an insult to the families across this country who know firsthand the horrors of gun violence,” DeLauro said.

Hamden Police Chief Thomas Wydra said there is currently a path to obtaining a silencer or a gun suppression attachment.

“Let it stay,” he said.

Opponents of the bill gathered at Hamden town hall and said the proposed legislation would make it too easy for people to purchase firearm silencers, which would make communities across more dangerous and make police work much more difficult.

Supporters of the bill say silencers help people who shoot recreationally and for sport.

The Connecticut Citizens Defense League and gun rights advocates who support the bill say silencers exist for a purpose and the bill is about protecting that.

“I believe there has been a misconception by the public for a very long time when it comes to noise suppressors. I think a lot of people conjure up an image of a hit-man from a violent movie or television show," CCDL president Scott Wilson said in a statement to NBC Connecticut. "The reality about these devices is that they dampen the loud noise to a safer decibel level. They especially benefit shooters that train and shoot in competitive events."



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Bush Favors 'Welcoming' Immigration Policy, Defends Media]]> Mon, 27 Feb 2017 14:14:30 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/632189304-George-W.-Bush-inauguration.jpg

Former President George W. Bush said Monday he believes in a "welcoming" immigration policy, called freedom of religion a bedrock freedom and forcefully defended the media as "indispensable to democracy."

In speaking out in an interview on NBC's "Today" show, Bush also didn't categorically rule out that a special prosecutor could be needed to investigate contacts between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and the Russian government.

"Today" host Matt Lauer asked Bush several questions about Trump and his policies, and while Bush didn't criticize the president, whom he noted has been in office for just one month, he did offer positions on religion, immigration, the fight against ISIS and the press that run at odds with views Trump has recently espoused.

Bush was on the "Today" show to discuss his new book of paintings by the Texan and stories of U.S. veterans called "Portraits of Courage," which benefits theMilitary Service Initiative of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

Bush did not make an endorsement in the presidential election and did not vote for president, a spokesman has said.

Trump is expected to issue this week a revised version of his controversial travel ban on people from seven majority-Muslim countries. 

"A bedrock of our freedom is the right to worship freely," Bush said when asked about the travel ban, which a federal court stayed amid widespread legal challenges.

Bush went on to say that members of ISIS shouldn't be considered religious people if they cut off the heads of innocent people, and he called the conflict with them an ideological one.

But he seemed to imply that the U.S. is already making its offensive against ISIS harder by insisting on the travel ban. He said, "I think it's very hard to fight the war on terrorism if we're in retreat," when Lauer asked about the ban and the fight against ISIS.

Bush alluded to the consequences that leaving a conflict can have. He presided over the second U.S. invasion of Iraq, which removed Saddam Hussein from power but left the country split by sectarian violence, which ISIS exploited soon after its founding and spread through the country's north — a force the Iraqi military is still battling with in the major city of Mosul.

Asked specifically if he was for or against Trump's ban, he said, "I am for an immigration policy that is welcoming and upholds the law."

While Trump spent the beginning of his most recent major speech, at CPAC, attacking the "fake news," a label he's given to outlets like NBC News and The New York Times, Bush called the media "indispensable to democracy."

"Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive, and it's important for the media to call to account people who abuse power, whether it be here or elsewhere," he said.

Bush noted that he tried as president to have Russian President Vladimir Putin embrace a free press, and said that it's harder to insist upon that value abroad if it there isn't one at home.

When Lauer asked Bush if he'd be in favor of a special prosecutor looking into possible links between Trump's presidential campaign and the Russian government, Bush said, "I think we all need answers."

But he did not know if a special prosecutor was the right way to go about finding those answers. He said that if Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, were to recommend a special prosecutor, that would "have a lot more credibility with me."

Bush has spent time in recent years helping veterans, including painting some of the ones he's gotten to know.

Bush said Monday he wants to sell a lot of books so he can help more veterans, and that what he misses about being president is saluting men and women in uniform.

"This is a book about the men and women who have been tremendous national assets in the Armed Forces -- and who continue to be vital to the future success of our country," Bush writes in the introduction. "The greatest honor of the presidency was looking them in the eye and saluting them as their Commander in Chief. And I intend to support and salute them for the rest of my life."

An exhibit of Bush's paintings will be on display from March 2 through October 1 at the George W. Bush Presidential Center on the SMU campus in Dallas.



Photo Credit: Getty Images, File
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<![CDATA[Hearing Today on Bringing Tolls Back to CT Highways]]> Mon, 27 Feb 2017 14:36:39 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/TollsinCT022417.jpg

State lawmakers are considering bringing tolls back to Connecticut highways.

Connecticut removed tolls decades ago, but the Transportation Committee held a hearing this morning to debate several bills that aim to establish electronic tolls to generate revenue for the state.  

One bill calls for a “congestion pricing system” to ease traffic congestion and raise revenue for long-term transportation infrastructure projects,  while another calls for establishing electronic tolls to create a source of revenue for the Special Transportation Fund

There is momentum for tolls after a recent report from the Office of Fiscal Analysis as well as the governor's office that projects the special transportation fund, which pays for road and bridge repairs, would be out of funds in five years.

Supporters said tolls are the best way to collect money from everyone who uses state roads.

"Because, if you raise the gas tax, then more electric and efficient cars will be  coming out," State Rep. Tony Guerrera, D, chair of the Transportation Committee, said. "Electronic tolling is the fairest way of doing this."

While there is agreement that Connecticut needs money for roads, opponents of the toll fear  unintended economic consequences.

"So, if you want to give New Yorkers a reason not to shop in Connecticut and not contribute to our sales tax, just put a toll at the border," Stephen Bull, president & CEO if the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce, said. 

“I don’t think it’s a very good idea. I think we already pay enough taxes, whatever expenses there are. I don’t think we should pay for just driving around,” Lisa Dreher, of East Hartford, said.

The tolls would be similar to the recently modified system in Massachusetts that allow drivers to drive through without stopping and the money raised by Connecticut tolls would go to a special transportation fund.

In Massachusetts, nearly of third of toll collections, around $112 million, came from out-of-state drivers.

“Have some of the people who are traveling the busiest parts of the highways, the parts that need fixing the most, have them contribute as well as the taxpayers here,” Beth Fresa, of Cromwell, said.

Concerns have been raised that the transportation fund could run out in several years.

Some drivers said they’d welcome back tolls if they helped prevent highways from always needing work.

“I drive through New York and the bridges, so it’s not an inconvenience. It’s just every time you look around they are doing highway repairs. So when will it ever end?” Stacey Felder, of East Hartford, said.

The hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. in Room 2C of the Legislative Office Building.

Lawmakers have not said where the tolls would go if they are approved.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Trump's Approval Stands at 44 Percent as Partisanship Reigns]]> Sun, 26 Feb 2017 09:13:12 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/trump+CPAC+getty.jpg

President Donald Trump's job approval rating stands at just 44 percent — a record low for a newly inaugurated commander-in-chief — and half of Americans say that his early challenges suggest unique and systemic problems with his administration, according to a new poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, NBC News reported.

In the poll, conducted February 18-22, 48 percent of Americans said they disapprove of Trump's performance as president and 32 percent said that his first month in office demonstrates that he is not up to the job. Asked about early challenges in the first month of his presidency, 52 percent called the issues "real problems" that are specific to his administration, while 43 percent of Americans attributed them to typical "growing pains" for any new president.

The new rating comes two days before Trump is set to address a joint session of Congress, a State of the Union-style speech in which new presidents typically lay out their vision for the country.



Photo Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clinton Calls for 'Resistance,' Party Unity in New Video]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 18:56:19 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-6286307641.jpg

Hillary Clinton has come up with a new equation for Democrats who are looking for change.

“Let resistance plus persistence equal progress for our party and our country,” she said in a video posted to the Democratic Party’s Twitter page.

The former Democratic presidential nominee released the statement Friday lauding recent solidarity efforts, from global women’s marches to actions against President Donald Trump’s travel ban at airports across the country.

“Nearly 66 million votes are fueling grassroots energy and activism, and everywhere people are marching, protesting, tweeting, speaking out, and working for an America that’s hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted,” Clinton said. 

She added, “Among those millions making their voices heard are future mayors, city and state officials, governors, members of Congress -- even future presidents.”

Clinton thanked her base for supporting her presidential bid, which she called “the honor of a lifetime.” She said that during the general election she had run on “the most progressive platform in history” and emphasized the need for Democrats to pull together and “stay focused on the elections we must win this year and next.” 

“As Democrats, we have diverse views and backgrounds,” she said. “We are Democrats, after all. But we’re bound together by the values and hopes we share for our country.” 

Clinton’s call for unity comes before Democrats are expected to choose a new chair for the Democratic National Committee on Saturday.

Tom Perez, Barack Obama’s former labor secretary, is running to “protect President Obama’s accomplishments” and “listen to Democrats at every level,” according to his campaign website.

One of his opponents, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, has been endorsed by former presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and is perceived as an alternative to Perez's establishment background.

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana,  has emerged as an underdog among D.C. political veterans.

According to the Associated Press, the role of DNC chair is “part cheerleader, part fundraiser, part organizer and recruiter, part public messenger.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Majority of Americans Want Trump-Russia Probe: Poll ]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 17:14:44 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Trump_Putin_Split.jpg

About half of Americans believe that Congress should investigate whether Donald Trump's presidential campaign had contact with the Russian government in 2016, while only a quarter say that lawmakers should not probe the issue, according to a new NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll.

The poll, conducted Feb. 18-22, shows that 53 percent of the American public wants Congress to look into the alleged communications, while 25 percent disagree and 21 percent say they don't have an opinion.

A similar share - 54 percent - believe that Congress should look into Russian interference in the election generally, while 29 percent disagree.



Photo Credit: Getty Images ]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Promises 'Roaring' American Comeback]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 12:55:49 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/Screen+Shot+2017-02-24+at+12.18.52+PM.png

President Donald Trump thanked his supporters during a speech at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference and promised a "roaring" comeback of an America that is "bigger, and better, and stronger than ever before."

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<![CDATA[Trump Attacks Media at CPAC]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 12:44:56 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/215*120/Screen+Shot+2017-02-24+at+12.16.22+PM.png

President Donald Trump continued his assault on the media Friday in his opening statement at the Conservative Political Action Conference, calling fake news "the enemy of the people" and attacking the media's use of anonymous sources. 

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<![CDATA[Trump Wants to Make US Nuclear Arsenal 'Top of the Pack']]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 07:18:21 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/donaldtrumponnukes.jpg

President Donald Trump on Thursday again expressed a desire for America to be an unparalleled military power, saying he wants to build up the U.S. nuclear arsenal to make it "top of the pack," NBC News reported.  

In an interview with Reuters, the president stated that the United States had fallen behind on atomic weapons but did not detail what kind of expansion, if any, the military would pursue. 

"A dream would be that no country would have nukes," Trump told Reuters. "But if countries are going to have nukes, we're going to be at the top of the pack."

 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Poll: More Than Half Disapprove of Trump's Job Performance]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 06:38:49 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/trumpwarpress.jpg

Fifty-four percent of Americans somewhat or strongly disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling the presidency after a month in office, while 43 percent approve somewhat or strongly, according to the latest NBC NewsSurveyMonkey poll.

NBC News reported that Trump enjoys broad support from within his party, but few outside of it, with evident divisions along gender and racial lines as well.

Nine of 10 Republicans or people who lean Republican approve of Trump's performance as president, with the same percentage of Democrats and those who lean Democrat disapproving. 

But independents split two to one against Trump. His aggregate low approval rating is below any other newly elected president since pollsters began tracking presidential job approval.



Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Boehner: Obamacare Repeal and Replace Won't Happen]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 03:18:23 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/AP_140043121627.jpg

Former House Speaker John Boehner spoke about the Affordable Care Act Thursday, saying that he didn't think the Republican-dominated Congress would be able to repeal and replace it, NBC News reported. 

Boehner, who spoke at a health care conference in Orlando, Florida, said Republicans' best shot is simply fixing flaws within the law, as it is difficult to get lawmakers to rally behind a complete replacement.

"In the 25 years the United States Congress, Republicans never, ever, one time agreed on what a health care proposal should look like. Not once," Boehner said.

He added that the law, nicknamed Obamacare, has some popular elements that are likely irreversible now, including parts that allow parents to keep their children on their policies until the kids are 26, as well as protections for individuals with pre-existing medical conditions.



Photo Credit: AP, File]]>