HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut's U.S. Senators said Friday they believe some, but not all of the money lost to the state during the 16-day partial federal government shutdown can be recouped.
Democrats Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy met with reporters to discuss the impact of the shutdown, which they said cost the national economy about $24 billion and Connecticut residents about $14.8 million in salary and benefits and about 1,000 jobs.
They said the state's economic losses would have been much worse if civilian inspectors had not been allowed to keep working on assembly lines at defense contractors such as helicopter maker Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.
The pair said they are working to recover money lost to the state as a result of the shutdown. Blumenthal said he's been assured by the Department of Health and Human Services that $900,000 spent by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to keep the federal Head Start program afloat in the Bridgeport area will be reimbursed.
"We are, as we speak, working hard to make sure that all the reimbursement due to the state of Connecticut and to agencies that are funded by the federal government, come to Connecticut as quickly as possible," Murphy said. "But, there is some money that can't be recouped."
Murphy said that includes funds that would have been spent during drills for the National Guard, which were cancelled, and the salaries of private government subcontractors who were furloughed by their employers during the shutdown.
"Now that their workers are back to work, they still have to deliver the product that they promised to deliver," he said. "So, while you can't recoup two weeks or one week of lost wages, there is likely going to be a substantial amount of overtime coming to a lot of those workers to get back on track with their delivery schedules."
Blumenthal said it also will be critical to the state's defense industry that Congress quickly pass a defense authorization bill, which would fund two new attack submarines every year, the next-generation Joint Strike Fighter jet, and more helicopters.
Blumenthal said he's encouraged by the initial meeting of a conference committee formed to come up with a more permanent budget solution and believes a "way forward" has been established to prevent any future shutdown. He said he believes common ground can be found both in raising revenue through the elimination of some tax breaks for special interests, and in budget cuts, such as to military bases abroad.
"The result is not going to be a grand bargain, it will be a great compromise," he said. "There is a template or a framework already existing and a set of proposals that can be adopted as common ground."
The senators said they believe the Republicans have learned that shutting down the government is not the way to advance their agenda, and both said they do not anticipate another shutdown in January when the temporary authorizations expire.
"The paper-thin silver lining is that we may not have to go through this misery again," Murphy said. "But there is no way to get back the loss economic output for Connecticut and for the nation."