Courtney provides chamber with legislative update
Norwich ― U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, told business leaders Monday that Congress has succeeded in passing legislation this year aimed at improving the treatment of veterans, reducing prescription drug prices and boosting U.S. manufacturing.
Courtney, speaking at a Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut luncheon at the Holiday Inn, jokingly referred to the achievements as “signs of intelligent life in Washington.”
He said passage of the PACT Act addressed the longstanding issue of veterans’ compensation for exposure to toxic chemicals. It will require the Veterans Administration to recognize a long list of illnesses and cancers “presumed” to have been linked to such exposures and provide health care benefits to more than 3.5 million veterans, including many from eastern Connecticut.
PACT, an acronym standing for Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics, passed with broad bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.
Also approved was the CHIPS Act, which Courtney said is designed to reverse the outsourcing of the production of microchips and semiconductors to other parts of the world. The law includes the Creating Helping Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America Fund, a $52.7 billion program to reestablish the domestic production of semiconductors, critical components of cell phones, cars and appliances as well as defense technologies.
The law also will reduce energy costs through tax credits to make energy-saving home improvements and electric vehicles more affordable.
Asked about Congress’s vision for storing spent nuclear fuel, an issue for Dominion, operator of Millstone Power Station in Waterford, Courtney said a plan for siting and management of interim storage facilities is progressing. The U.S. Department of Energy has allocated funding for the process, and hundreds of communities, recognizing the potential economic benefits of hosting such facilities, have expressed interest, he said.
Another audience member asked Courtney about what’s being done about the flood of immigrants and the synthetic opiod fentanyl entering the country at the southern border.
Courtney, who acknowledged immigration is “snowballing in an out-of-control way,” said he supported the approach of a coalition of state attorneys general who have urged President Biden to classify fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong is among 18 attorneys general who have called for the designation, which they say would enable the government to more effectively fight the illicit distribution of the drug.
Courtney, a candidate for a ninth term in the November election, is running against state Rep. Mike France, a Republican who represents Preston and parts of Ledyard and Montville, and Green Party candidate Kevin Blacker.
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