President Joe Biden planned to sign 17 executive orders during his first hours in office, undoing his predecessor’s policies on immigration and energy. He also planned to sign a number of orders dealing with the pandemic, which state leaders on both sides of the aisle said should be his number one priority.
“I do think President Biden is right focusing on trying to get more of the vaccine released to the states,” said House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora.
A massive relief package of unemployment assistance, state aid, and stimulus funding that the state has been waiting for is expected to be taken up in February or early March according to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, who represents Connecticut’s third district in D.C..
“Funding for schools, getting kids back into the classroom while keeping them safe and their teachers safe,” she said of its benefits.
“He’s gonna get us economic relief to help us build our economy back better,” said Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz of Biden’s proposals.
Governor Ned Lamont, the president’s newly appointed co-chair of the pandemic and disaster response task force, will focus on issues of cybersecurity and the rollout of the vaccine for the National Governor’s Association.
The last time Democrats held the power in both the state house, the White House, and Congress was 2008.
“Let’s not squander this opportunity. We have friends in the White House now,” said Lamont. “This is our opportunity to get things done. We don’t overplay our hand but we play our hand.”
Lamont said he’ll sleep easier with President Joe Biden in the White House.
“This is a country that we recognize again and know and love,” he said shortly after the inauguration.
Connecticut’s Secretary of the State, Denise Merrill, said she cried during Biden’s speech but had a more cautious tone when talking about the challenges that lie ahead.
“Make no mistake, we’ve still got a lot of work ahead of us to restore faith not only in our country but in our democratic institutions,” she said.
From the border wall to the travel ban, Biden planned to target some of former President Donald Trump’s signature policies immediately through executive orders, drawing criticism from some Republicans.
“I think we’ve sort of decimated our Democracy and if Congress can act, the state legislature can act, they should be the ones who are participating in the decision making. I think executive orders have been overused at the federal level and the state level,” said Candelora, who has been critical of Lamont’s use of executive orders during the pandemic.
Connecticut’s top Republican in the House worried about the roll back of Trump’s trade and energy reforms and warned of potential tax increases by the Democratically-controlled Congress.
“Part of the reason why the state of Connecticut is not in a deficit is because of the high performance of the stock market and so if we start to see increases on capital gains tax that will impact those markets, it will have a direct impact on Connecticut’s revenues,” Candelora explained.
But, Senator Richard Blumenthal said he did not expect there to be tax hikes in the future and applauded the new president for not waiting on Congress to undo the policies of his predecessor.
“Rejoining the Paris Accord, bolstering the DACA program for Dreamers in Connecticut, immediate tangible effects,” he said.
While the pandemic will be the top priority, with Biden announcing a mask mandate on federal properties and a plan to get more vaccines rolled out to states, state leaders hope to work with the White House on other policies as well.
“Road and bridge rebuilding and support for public transportation enhancements and also for sustainable energy and investment,” said Bysiewicz.
With Democrats now holding the power both in Washington and here at home, Republicans aren’t so optimistic.
“One party rule just doesn’t work out well for us. So, I am concerned that we’re going to begin to see some bad policies that will impact us long down the road,” said Candelora.