In the weeks since inauguration day, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., has emerged as one of the leaders of Senate opposition to President Donald Trump.
Murphy has been one of the legislators most active in resisting Trump’s legislative agenda and cabinet nominations. Days after the president signed an executive order barring travel from seven majority-Muslim countries, Murphy introduced a bill to block the executive order.
Murphy has also helped lead efforts to defeat a number of Trump’s cabinet nominations, voting against three out of eight that have come before the Senate so far. Above all, though, his primary objective remains to serve as the “voice of the people in Connecticut,” Murphy said in an interview with the News.
“My voice is louder than it had been in the past, but that’s because the passions of the people that I represent are louder and more intense than they’ve been in the past,” Murphy said. “If I’m doing my job right, the volume of my voice is simply reflective of the people that I represent.”
In addition to introducing a bill to neutralize the immigration order by defunding it, Murphy condemned the order in an op-ed for the Huffington Post titled, “How Trump Just Made America Less Safe,” (Jan. 27, 2017) writing that it was “likely to get Americans killed.” In another Huffington Post op-ed titled, “A Reckless Slide Toward War with Iran,” (Feb. 2, 2017) Murphy wrote that the Trump administration’s recent behavior toward Iran led him to question whether it was “begging for war.” And in an interview with the News, he called Trump’s policy-making “amateurish” and “ham-handed.”
Murphy has also made his voice heard in confirmation hearings and urged his fellow lawmakers to oppose a handful of Trump’s nominees, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Tom Price, the nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. His questioning of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos went viral on social media after DeVos said guns should be allowed in certain schools due to the risk of grizzly bear attacks. Last week, Murphy visited New Haven to meet with constituents about some of his greatest concerns with the Trump agenda. On Friday afternoon, he spoke with local educators about the threat posed by DeVos, and that evening he joined Muslim leaders from across the state to discuss the travel ban, Trump’s cabinet nominations and Islamophobia in elementary schools, among other issues.
Audience members at both events expressed strong approval for the senator’s recent work in Washington. Bob Osborne, a teacher at Career High School in New Haven, said Murphy proved that he was “really on the side of the greatest good: public education.” At the evening event, Yousuf Shaikh said the senator showed “powerful advocacy” both for Connecticut and for Muslims.
In a statement to the News, the Yale College Democrats voiced their support for the work Murphy has done over the past three weeks.
“Senator Murphy has long been one of the Senate’s moral leaders, especially on issues related to gun violence,” the statement read. “We are glad that Senator Murphy has emerged as one of the national leaders of anti-Trump resistance, and are pleased that he is finally getting the national recognition he so deserves.”
The statement praised Murphy in particular for his fight to block the confirmation of DeVos and for his opposition to Trump’s executive order on immigration. The group also applauded Murphy’s advocacy for stricter gun-control legislation and praised him for applying the same level of dedication to fight Trump’s immigration and refugee policies.
J.R. Romano, the chairman of the Connecticut Republican Party, was more cynical about the motives behind Murphy’s increased outspokenness.
“Chris has always been a political opportunist,” Romano said. “He’s using the dissatisfaction amongst Democrats and liberals who still cannot get over the fact that they lost to raise his political profile.”
Murphy was elected to the Senate in 2012.