Jack Reed

Welcome back to my weekly column. The news doldrums of summer are getting left behind (see item 1), So hang on to your hat, it's going to be quite a ride, Rhode Island. Your tips and thoughts are always welcome at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and you can follow me throughout the week on Twitter. Let's head in.

Rhode Island’s two US senators say the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester are having a negative effect across the Ocean State.  Reports, the impact of those cuts was the focus of a forum in Providence Wednesday.

Rhode Island Housing, which recently lost 30 employees partly due to federal spending cuts, was the site of the forum hosted by Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

Senator Jack Reed says the United States needs to send Syria a clear message that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated. Reed’s comments came one day after Secretary of State John Kerry said there was – quote – “undeniable” proof that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its own citizens last week, killing hundreds of civilians. 


Senator Jack Reed is in Woonsocket Tuesday, bringing a gift from the federal government.

Senator Jack Reed has secured $1.5 million for the Woonsocket Head Start program.  The money won’t be enough to make up for sequestration cuts, according to Reed’s office.

Woonsocket will still lose 30 Head Start slots this fall. Statewide, some 370 slots will be lost.

Nationwide, sequestration has forced Head Start to eliminate and reduce services for more than 57-thousand children for the coming school year, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

Vice President Joe Biden has canceled plans to headline a Newport fundraiser Thursday for the Democratic National Committee and to appear during a Salve Regina University event honoring Nuala Pell, the widow of the late senator Claiborne Pell.

Welcome back to my Friday column. As always you can reach me at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org. Let's get started.

The debate over Obamacare rages from Providence to Pasadena. As the state moves closer to launching its health insurance exchange, RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay parses the arguments and traces the law’s Rhode Island roots.

Ask Rhode Island Republican State Chairman Mark Smiley what he thinks of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare and you’ll get a blunt answer:  He says, ``I hate it.’’

Smiley’s position is simple and wedded to his party’s national stance: Repeal the entire law and start over. ``Socialism,’’ he says, ``doesn’t work.’’

Wikimedia Commons

The Rhode Island International Film Festival is underway.  One movie highlights the loan program named for the late Senator Claiborne Pell.

A documentary about Pell Grants will receive its world premiere in Providence as part of the week-long film festival.

The movie follows the battle Senator Claiborne Pell fought in Congress to pass the grant program in the seventies.

It was written and directed by Steven Feinberg, who’s also the executive director of the Rhode Island Film and Television Office.


Senator Jack Reed said he’s confident that Rhode Island will receive federal money meant to boost the state’s manufacturing sector.

Reed and the three other members of the congressional delegation took part Monday in a manufacturing forum at URI’s Providence campus. About 100 people attended the discussion.

Reed said the outlook is good for Rhode Island to get a preliminary grant of up to 200-thousand dollars to foster a strategy for adding manufacturing jobs.

Rhode Island’s congressional delegation helped launch Monday an effort to encourage participation in the federal healthcare overhaul known as Obamacare.  Nine community health centers around the state will play a role in the campaign.

file / RIPR

Once again, Rhode Island has embarked on an advertising campaign to raise our state’s flagging self-esteem. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says it’s time for us to stop running down our tiny corner of New England.

Back in 1996, when Jack Reed was running his first U.S. Senate campaign, Texas Gov. Ann Richards came to Newport to speak at a Reed fund-raiser. The tart-tongued Texan introduced the vertically-challenged Rhode Island Democrat by saying to prolonged laughter that Reed is proof ``that size doesn’t matter.’’

T.F. Green Airport Starts Upgrades

Jul 30, 2013
Catherine Welch / RIPR

An ambitious four-year plan to upgrade T.F. Green Airport has finally gotten underway. Monday one of the airport’s two runways was shut down to make way for the removal of a hangar.  Next month work begins on a new de-icing fluid treatment plant.

Peter Frazer, general counsel to the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, said none of this should inconvenience travelers.

Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed has failed again in his attempt to hold down college student loan rates.

The Senate has once again failed to pass Democrat  Reed’s legislation that would keep federal student college loans from doubling in interest. Reed’s bill failed on a procedural motion by a vote of 51 to 49. Sixty votes were needed to end the Republican filibuster.

Congressman David Cicilline is calling this a good day for equality, reacting to news of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down a provision of a federal law denying federal benefits to married gay couples.

“No longer will people be discriminated against because of who they love,” said Cicilline, “and all marriages will be respected and people will be treated equally under the law. That’s a great victory.”

At this time of the RI General Assembly session every year, when the State House gets as hot as a sauna and the rhetoric boils over, lawmakers are confronted with money items tucked into the arcane language of the state budget that don’t seem to have received much discussion but have an impact on state taxpayers.

One that for the most part has dropped below the media radar is what appears to be some very favorable treatment for a huge defense contractor that doesn’t really need state financial help, the Electric Boat division of General  Dynamics.