U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal addressed Eastern Connecticut’s workforce development, inflation, immigration, gas prices, filibuster and other topics during a an online meeting with the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce on Friday afternoon.
The Democrat touted the value of workforce training programs, singling out Electric Boat for its commitment to such programs.
“Electric Boat is ramping up in a big way, and so is Eastern Connecticut. We should support those kinds of efforts and provide more training, which will help fill more jobs,” Blumenthal said. more openings than we have unemployed.We need to provide more training and workforce development…I think the challenge will be how to fill the jobs without causing further inflation.
He also noted that the additional unemployment benefit paid as a result of the coronavirus pandemic has ceased.
“There has been dissatisfaction with increases in unemployment compensation – those are in the rearview mirror,” Blumenthal said. “One of the apparent mysteries is why more people aren’t going back to work. I guess they’ve used up a lot of their savings. Hopefully that will help get more people into the market. work.
One of the questions House Speaker Tony Sheridan posed to Blumenthal is whether streamlining the immigration process would contribute to the labor shortage.
“I am strongly in favor of immigration reform. It’s a broken system. The number of people coming to this country who are able to work is too low,” Blumenthal said. “I work on constituent issues involving immigration, visas, green cards and other challenges, where people really deserve and need to be here. … We don’t want to open our borders, we don’t want to eliminate security at our borders, that’s not what I’m advocating, but more immigration, which throughout the history of this country has makes us a nation of immigrants. »
Blumenthal answered a question about cannabis-related businesses and banks. The Safe Banking Act, which passed the House but not the Senate, would not change the federal legal status of cannabis, but would allow cannabis companies access to federal banking services. Blumenthal said he would advocate passage of the bill to his fellow senators.
Like some of his legislative colleagues have done recently, Blumenthal said the Build Back Better Act had a better chance of passing if it was legislated in “segments” rather than as a whole – for example, issues of climate change in one bill and child care issues. in other. He believes easier access to cheaper childcare will get some people back to work. He talked about a Build Back Better proposal that would see child care cost no more than 7% of families’ annual income.
Blumenthal acknowledged that party member Joe Manchin, a Democratic senator from West Virginia, held up the passage of Build Back Better, but said they were friends who often worked together.
“Disagreements with my colleagues are a source of frustration. But it’s not just with Senator Manchin,” Blumenthal said. “I want to emphasize that we are an equally divided Senate. Every Republican voted against the US bailout. Senator Manchin voted with us. As a result of the US bailout, we have some of the workforce development programs that I mentioned earlier… It’s not until every Republican opposes us that Manchin becomes even a problem. This happened on voting rights with respect to the filibuster.
During Friday’s event, Blumenthal touched on inflation and gasoline prices. He suggested two possible solutions: reducing prescription drug costs and investing in public transportation.
“I’ve heard arguments from our big pharma that they need to invest in research and development, but we can still cut costs,” he said. He pointed to a proposal that would drastically reduce insulin prices to a maximum of $35 per month.