Sheldon Whitehouse

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Rhode Island’s political establishment was rebuked in last week’s presidential primaries as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump coasted to victories. 

Insurgent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won a resounding victory over front-runner Hillary Clinton in Rhode Island’s Democratic presidential primary today. On the Republican side, Donald Trump crushed challengers Ted Cruz and John Kasich.

On a rainy and blustery New England day, voters surged to polls in both primaries to deliver a strong message to the establishment of both major parties, saying emphatically that they aren’t pleased with the status quo.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse stopped by our studio Friday to discuss a wide range of issues, including the 6/10 Connector, the free speech debate on climate change, the outlook for Hillary Clinton, the plight of the middle class, the threat posed by ISIS, and more.

Happy mid-April, and thanks for stopping by for my weekly column. As usual, your tips and comments are welcome, and you can follow me through the week on the twitters. Here we go.

Courtesy Whitehouse press office

  U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is backing Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Garland met with Whitehouse Wednesday. Garland is making his customary rounds, meeting with members of Congress as he seeks the judgeship.

Garland faces opposition from Republican lawmakers who say they will not allow his confirmation to proceed.

Whitehouse said he’s working to ensure that Republican members of Congress will properly vet Garland.

RIPR FILE

Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse took an active role in the overhaul of the “No Child Left Behind Act”. That’s the federal education law that ushered in a new emphasis on standardized testing in public schools. The new law, known as the “Every Student Succeeds Act” is supposed to reduce the focus on testing. It got a signature last week from President Barack Obama. Senator Whitehouse joins Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison now to discuss the new law.

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.

Wikimedia Commons

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.

RIPR FILE

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.

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