Sheldon Whitehouse

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Don’t be fooled by the recent blush of September-like weather; New Englanders know winter is on  the way.

In this vein, Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation announced today that the state is getting an additional $2.4 million in federal money from the Federal  Emergency Management Agency to help defray cleanup costs from last winter’s big January snowstorm.

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Rhode Island’s two U.S. Senators, Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse are pushing to increase the national smoking age to 21. The two lawmakers joined other Congressmen introducing the legislation Wednesday.

Elisabeth Harrison

U.S. Senator Jack Reed is defending his support for President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran. The Democrat says the deal will stall  nuclear buildup, and solidify the U.S. as  major figure in international diplomacy.

"I think we have a much stronger voice in the international community if we decide we must take action," said Reed. "If we are seen as the ones that walked away from this arrangement, I think the Iranians would complain that they were victimized."

Following the announcement that Rhode Island’s U.S. Senators – Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse – would support the Iran Nuclear Deal, reaction within the state’s Jewish community has been mixed.

Officials with the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island say they’ve talked with Whitehouse and Reed over the last several years about the agreement.

Alliance spokesman Marty Cooper says now that Reed and Whitehouse have announced their support members feel there are still issues that need to be resolved.


Rhode Island’s two U.S. senators, Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, announced today that they will be supporting President Obama’s Iran nuclear agreement.

In a joint statement, Reed and Whitehouse said the agreement is the best way to ensure that Iran does not manufacture nuclear weapons.

Reed said he supports the deal, ``because it cuts off Iran’s pathway to a nuclear weapon and gives international inspectors unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and supply chains.’’

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo has asked a working group to come up with a way to slow health care spending in Rhode Island. It's a strategy that has showed promise in Massachusetts.

Raimondo signed an executive order to establish the Working Group for Health Care Innovation. The group’s charge is to propose a way to limit the growth in public and private health care spending. One model might be close to home. Raimondo says Massachusetts placed a cap on spending.

Rhode Island’s Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is sounding celebratory notes following the Senate’s approval of a new education policy. The vote significantly revamps the Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act.

The Senate passed the new education bill by lopsided 81 to 17 vote.

Whitehouse said the new legislation maintains annual testing requirements, but removes some of the penalties for lower performing schools.

Whitehouse, who helped to draft the legislation, says he heard the concerns of many students and teachers about the impact of No Child Left Behind.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Rhode Island’s two U.S. Senators, Democrats Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, have nominated Rhode Island’s top public defender, Mary McElroy, to the U.S. District Court vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Mary Lisi.

President Obama scored a victory for his trade plan today when the U.S. Senate approved a measure that would give the president the authority to negotiate international deals, but he did it without help from Rhode Island two Democratic senators, Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse.

Reed and Whitehouse were on the losing end of a 60 to 37 Senate vote. Both Rhode Islanders cited concerns that trade deals hurt American workers. Thirteen Democrats joined with 47 Republicans to push the trade pact to a final vote, which is likely to occur tomorrow.

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee / Webcast

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) says sharing electronic health records should be easier. But it isn’t. Most systems aren’t linked to one another and they don’t collect the same data. Whitehouse told a Senate committee today that Rhode Island’s system for sharing patient data, CurrentCare, and similar systems in other states, could help overcome some of those obstacles.

If U.S. senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrats both, are searching for a fine candidate for the opening on U.S. District Court in Providence, federal magistrate Patricia Sullivan whould get top consideration.

Sullivan has the legal, academic and community service qualifications necessary for a federal judge. Sources tell Rhode Island Public Radio that she has applied for the post, which is vacant due to the retirement of U.S. District Judge Mary Lisi.

So Lincoln Chafee has become the first Rhode Islander to seek a major party nomination for president. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on why Chafee must step up his game quickly to be a factor in the 2016 presidential sweepstakes.

Love him or hate him, you have to acknowledge that Chafee is a politician of conviction and deeply held views about what’s wrong with the country. Throughout his long career in Rhode Island politics, most honest voters would agree Chafee was on the right side of many issues.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! Mea Culpa: Please see Number 1A (below). We're breaking from TGIF's usual format this week to look at key questions facing Rhode Island at the traditional start to summer. While the season of beaches and barbecues is generally a more relaxed time, a lot of significant outcomes hang in the balance. So thanks for stopping by. Feel free to share your thoughts and tips at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and to follow me on the twitters. Here we go.

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Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse delivered his 100th climate address this week on the Senate floor. He’s inviting people to join him in a Google Hangout video conference tomorrow to mark the occasion.


Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse will join the president of the League of Conservation voters to talk about the threats climate change poses to the environment, public health, and economy. They’ll talk about some of the steps the United States is taking—and still needs to take—to combat climate change.

Courtesy of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

Later today, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse delivers his 100th address on climate change. In what has become a weekly ritual, the Rhode Island democrat takes to the Senate floor to call for action on climate change. Rhode Island Public Radio’s environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza caught up with Whitehouse at the Volvo Ocean Race in Newport to talk about what motivates him and what he’s learned since he delivered his first speech three years ago.