Rep. Jahana Hayes opens Waterbury office, discusses government shutdown


Newly-elected Congresswoman Jahana Hayes cut the ribbon on the opening of her new 5th Congressional district offices in downtown Waterbury on Bank Street and couldn’t contain her excitement.

“I’m so excited to be in downtown Waterbury!” she said. 

She moved the district’s offices to the new Waterbury location on Bank Street right next door to where her campaign office headquarters were. She likes the accessibility it provides to the people she was elected to represent in Congress.

“People can walk by and stop in the office and visit their office,” she said.

Representative Hayes made history in November when she was elected as the first African-American woman to represent Connecticut in Congress. But, the former Teacher of the Year is learning a tough lesson about the inner workings of Washington.

News 8 asked Rep. Hayes what disappoints her most about Washington so far. This is how she answered:

“The unwillingness to move,” she said, referring to the stalemate over the government shutdown. “I did not go to Washington to hurt people and people are hurting. So, we really have to work on getting this shutdown over — getting it to end.”

“There has to be some willingness to move on both sides,” she said.

News 8 asked Rep. Hayes about President Trump’s compromise offer over the weekend to grant temporary protections against deportation for many young immigrants and others who are fleeing violence or disaster in their native countries in exchange for Congress to give him $5.7 billion for his proposed border wall.

“This deal — if you want to call it that — really offers no protection,” Rep. Hayes said. “I think he has to accept the fact that the House of Representatives flipped and you have to work with people.”

Rep. Hayes believes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have negotiated in good faith with the president.

“Nancy Pelosi put nine votes on the floor (of The House) for us to try to re-open the government, to try to re-open departments,” she said. “Open the government. Let’s negotiate border security, immigration separately.”

Related Content: Jahana Hayes is officially Connecticut’s 5th District Representative

Rep. Hayes says too many federal workers and their families continue to struggle because of the government shutdown. She says the newly-elected freshmen members of Congress, including herself, have taken their concerns of hardships at home to top Democratic leadership.

“We have Danbury Federal Corrections where we have lots of workers there,” she said. “We have an IRS facility right across the street in Waterbury… I’ve heard from child care workers, who, federal employees have pulled their kids and they rely on that income, as well.”

The government shutdown actually delayed the ribbon-cutting for her new district offices until Tuesday. She’s home in Waterbury now because the House of Representatives is on a winter recess until January 26th. But, Representative Hayes feels they shouldn’t have left Washington until a deal is worked out to end the shutdown.

“I feel we shouldn’t have left Washington,” she said. “We should’ve stayed there. No one should’ve left until we work something out. That’s not going to happen if we’re not in the same room.”

Web Extra: Hayes speaks prior to cutting ribbon at new office

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