By The Day Editorial Board
While some voters on the right will never be comfortable with Rep. Joe Courtney’s Democratic affiliation, it is hard to argue that he has not been getting the job done for his Second Congressional District, which encompasses most of the eastern half of Connecticut.
Since entering office in 2006 during the closing years of the George W. Bush administration, Courtney has pushed the case to ramp up submarine construction. He has had much success. Electric Boat in Groton is now working on a two submarines per year construction schedule. While a proposal to build three Virginia-class attack submarines in 2022 and 2023 suffered a procedural setback this year, Courtney is undaunted and plans to renew his arguments for expedited construction if re-elected.
Or should we say when. His re-election appears a forgone conclusion.
The congressman has also been instrumental in obtaining procurement funds for the next generation of ballistic-missile firing submarines — the Columbia class — a successor to the Tridents. Twelve are planned.
The bottom line is that submarine construction should be booming in these parts well into the future. The challenges will be providing the skilled workforce necessary and expanding the EB manufacturing footprint in Groton, good problems to have.
If Democrats take the House of Representatives in November, as many pollsters see as likely, Courtney would almost certainly become chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, strengthening his hand in future fights for defense dollars.
But Courtney has not seen success in just one area. On Monday he will view work progress on the rebuilding of the Central New England rail line. In 2014, Courtney played a central role in obtaining a highly competitive $12.8 million federal grant for the project that will allow heavier freight to be transported on the line, running from State Pier in New London and connecting with already upgraded rail in Massachusetts. Completion is expected in the spring of 2019.
Recently Courtney announced negotiations with the IRS have led to a clarification of tax rules that will offer additional tax relief to homeowners faced with the cost of rebuilding crumbling foundations.
Courtney, 65, well deserves re-election to a seventh term.
The Republican candidate, Dan Postemski, an Iraq war veteran, has essentially given up, citing a lack of resources and backing from the party. Also on the ballot are Green Party candidate Michelle Louise Bicking and Daniel Reale, a Libertarian.
Courtney said one thing he shares in common with his Green opponent, a desire to amend federal law to allow Connecticut farmers to legally grow industrial hemp.
A moderate, Courtney is a member of the New Democratic Coalition, a group of 68 moderate House members who want to focus on trade, tax reform and pro-jobs policies and not dismantling the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency or implementing Medicare for all.
He has twice voted against impeachment bills introduced by fellow Democrats, saying such a serious step should not be contemplated without substantial evidence of wrongdoing.
If Democrats obtain control of the House, he would push for a return to regular order, allowing the minority Republicans to offer bill amendments, a move current Republican Speaker Paul Ryan often blocked for Democrats.
“We need to get out of this feedback loop that has resulted in increasing polarization,” he told us.
However, Courtney said the House does need to act as a check on presidential abuses. If Democrats take control, he said they should access the president’s tax returns and explore whether the Trump family’s many financial interests overseas violate the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
“The American people have a right to know whether personal finances may be driving the administration’s policy decisions,” he said.
Courtney said he sees an opportunity in the next Congress to provide permanent legal status for so-called Dreamers — young adults who were brought to the country as children illegally but have otherwise acted within our laws. Requiring universal federal background checks for gun purchases and reinstalling net neutrality rules undermined by the Trump administration are other areas of possible compromise, he said.
His priorities in the next term would include providing relief for college graduates facing massive student debts by providing refinancing opportunities and, in the case of some critical occupations, loan forgiveness.
On health care, Courtney said he wants to move past the endless debate over the Affordable Care Act to new reforms. He advocates allowing citizens, at age 50, or their employers to buy into the Medicare system, which Courtney said could cut their premium costs 40 percent.
Courtney has remained focused on getting things done, not undercutting the opposition. The Day enthusiastically endorses his re-election.October 22nd, 2018