Sununu says N.H. delegation doing a ‘poor’ job advocating for state

  • New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu waves as he arrives to address legislators at his budget address at the State House in Concord, N.H., Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017. Sununu presented his plan for the next two-year state budget, kicking off a months-long legislative process of perfecting the state's plan for how to spend its money. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Gov. Chris Sununu speaks with the Monitor in Bedford on Tuesday, April. 11, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

Monitor staff
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Gov. Chris Sununu slammed New Hampshire’s all-Democratic Congressional delegation as “poor” advocates for the state’s needs and characterized his trip to Washington on Monday as an effort, in part, to pick up the slack.

Sununu, a Republican, told reporters on a conference call Tuesday that U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, as well as Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster weren’t trying to work with the Trump administration.

“Right now, our federal delegation does a very poor job advocating for what our state needs. The administration is not listening to them,” Sununu said. “The only thing the administration hears from them is all the negativity that our federal delegation pushes. That is never going to get you a seat at the table, and that is never going to get good results for the state of New Hampshire.”

This isn’t the first evidence of tension between the state’s all-Democratic Congressional representation and its Republican governor. Last week, all four Congresswomen publicly condemned Sununu’s decision not to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of states pledging to uphold the 2o15 Paris Agreement.

As for the trip itself, Sununu called his meetings with with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Small Business Administration leader Linda McMahon and Environmental Protection Agency officials “incredibly productive.”

Sununu said he discussed the details of FirstNet –  a nationwide broadband network for first responders – with Pai to better understand whether or not New Hampshire should opt-in or not. 

With DeVos, Sununu said he advocated against proposed cuts in the federal budget for after-school programs, for help expanding charter schools in the state, and for greater flexibility regarding testing.

He talked to McMahon about expanding the SBA’s presence in the state, and with EPA officials about restoring funding for programs the Trump administration’s budget zeroes out.

Sununu said New Hampshire operates about a half-dozen environmental programs that rely entirely on federal funds, and said officials with the EPA responded positively to his pleas.

“They gave us the assurance that they would be sure to get back in there and continue to advocate for more state grants and more state funding,” Sununu said. “But we’re not going to get it if we don’t ask for it. And we’re not going to get it if we’re not willing to sit down with these folks. We’re not going to get it if we just worry about political, partisan headlines.”

New Hampshire Democratic party chairman Ray Buckley criticized Sununu’s trip to the capital.

“Time after time, Governor Sununu has sided with the Trump administration against the priorities of the people of New Hampshire,” Buckley said in a statement. “Without fail, Sununu has been a rubber stamp for the Trump administration at a time when Republican governors across the country are pushing back.”

(Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)