Warwick Post: Whitehouse, Reed, Langevin, Avedisian Call for More Coastal Infrastructure Investment

Warwick Post: Whitehouse, Reed, Langevin, Avedisian Call for More Coastal Infrastructure Investment

By Rob Borkowski

WARWICK, RI — In the event of a 100-year storm, the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council predicts parts of West Shore Road would be under water, effectively turning the Warwick Neck neighborhood into a temporary island, a local example of the need for coastal infrastructure investment Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and the RI Congressional delegation is asking for with Mayor Scott Avedisian’s support.
Whitehouse, Sen. Jack Reed, Congressman Jim Langevin and Avedisian met at Conimicut State Park Monday morning to call for public support for Whitehouse’s National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund, designed to make roads and bridges more resilient.

“Rhode Island’s infrastructure needs a lot of investment to get back to a healthy state, let alone to prepare for rising seas and increasingly severe weather,” said Senator Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “We are the Ocean State, and our way of life and economy rely on critical infrastructure in coastal communities like Warwick. Investing in infrastructure is a bipartisan issue, and I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues and the administration to create jobs, ensure safe roads, protect our communities, and lift the economy.”

Scientists predict the need for such investment is likely to increase through the next several decades.

According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), global sea level has been rising over the past century, with the rate increasing in recent years. In 2014, global sea level was 2.6 inches above the 1993 average. Sea level continues to rise at a rate of about one-eighth of an inch (3.2 mm) per year, due to a combination of melting glaciers and ice sheets, and thermal expansion of seawater as it warms.

Higher sea levels cause storm surges to push further inland than they once did, causing more frequent nuisance flooding. Nuisance flooding is estimated to be between 300 percent to 900 percent more frequent within U.S. coastal communities than it was 50 years ago, NOAA reports. Hundred-year flood events, such as the 2010 flood which struck Rhode Island and dealt the City of Warwick a harsh blow, are expected to become more frequent due to climate change and sea level rise, researchers from MIT and Princeton University predict.

In 2012, NOAA scientists concluded there is a greater than 90 percent chance that global mean sea level will rise between 8 inches and 6.6 feet by 2100. In March of this year, the Washington Post reported scientists published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences predicting the rate of sea level increase could double to 1/4 inch (6 millimeters) per year by 2040, accelerated by melting in Greenland and Antarctica.

President Donald Trump has called for $1 trillion in infrastructure spending. In January, Senate Democrats proposed a $1 trillion infrastructure improvement blueprint,which would rebuild and reinforce infrastructure while creating jobs in Rhode Island and across the country. The blueprint contains $25 billion for upgrades to make communities more resilient to natural disasters and climate change, including funding for the National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund.

“As a coastal community with more than 39 miles of coastline we fully understand the importance of safe and secure infrastructure in our city and throughout the state,” said Mayor Avedisian. “I fully support Senator Whitehouse’s work as he aims to bring national attention to some of our most dire roadways and bridges across the state. As the Senator, along with his Congressional colleagues, work to pass legislation, it is my sincere hope that with potential funding we are able to make smart, long-term investments into our infrastructure and ultimately the future wellbeing of our communities.”

“Rhode Island’s infrastructure is in desperate need of repairs, particularly in areas affected by severe flooding brought on by extreme weather events,” said Langevin.

“We have the programs in place to effectively deploy funding at the state and local level to help address these needs. We need the President to work with us to put real money into them,” Reed said.

Providence Journal: Reed, Whitehouse, Langevin critical of Trump after report he shared classified information

Providence Journal: Reed, Whitehouse, Langevin critical of Trump after report he shared classified information

By Mark Reynolds

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., issued the following statement in reaction to a Washington Post report in which current and former U.S. officials say that President Donald Trump shared “highly classified information” with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during a meeting at the White House last week, asserting that the president’s “recklessness with sensitive information is deeply disturbing and clearly problematic.”

“The President of the United States has the power to share classified information with whomever they wish, but the American people expect the President to use that power wisely,” Reed said in a statement. “I don’t believe the President intentionally meant to reveal highly secretive information to the Russians.”

“…if the Washington Post report is accurate,” says the release, “then the President crossed a line that could have a real negative impact on national security…”

In a statement, U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said it appears that Trump, has “been reckless with highly classified information,” which puts intelligence sources and methods under a threat of exposure and undermines the relationships important for keeping the country safe.

“If our allies and partners don’t trust us with critical information because our President can’t protect their secrets, it can be a matter of life and death,” Whitehouse said, “Betraying those secrets to an adversary like Russia – which waged an information war against us as part of a campaign to disrupt our democracy and does not share our interests in Syria or the broader Middle East – is wildly irresponsible.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., said that he is “deeply disturbed” by the reported disclosures, saying that such disclosures could “jeopardize ongoing operations abroad” and “also endanger our cooperation, goodwill, and security agreements with our critical U.S. allies.

“It is also highly troubling that this report comes on the heels of the dismissal of the FBI Director, which the President himself has tied to the ongoing investigation of his campaign’s collusion with Russia,” Langevin said.

WPRI: RI agencies taking precautions after worldwide cyberattack

WPRI: RI agencies taking precautions after worldwide cyberattack

By Susan Campbell

WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Congressman Jim Langevin is calling the “ransomware” cyberattack that has crippled businesses, banks, and hospitals worldwide “extremely troubling.”

Langevin is a member of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, and has long-touted cybersecurity as one of his top priorities.

“One of the worst-case scenarios that I have always been worried about is that computers worldwide would be shut down, businesses and hospitals would be locked out of their computers, or even worse damage could be expected,” Langevin told reporters Monday. “We have to step up our game, be as aggressive as possible in protecting our networks and doing everything we can to keep this from happening.”

Brenna McCabe, a spokesperson for the Rhode Island Department of Administration, told Eyewitness News the state is not aware of any state agencies that have been impacted by the ransomware attack.

In a statement, McCabe said, “We are following the comprehensive guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and are sharing information with staff to make sure we are taking proper precautions. Our chief cybersecurity and IT officials will continue to closely monitor activity and take the appropriate measures to protect government resources.”

According to the Rhode Island Department of Health, local hospitals and health care provider networks have not been impacted by the cyber attack. Joseph Wendelken, a spokesperson for the agency, said the Department of Health collaborates with hospital networks to prepare for cybersecurity issues.

“We work very closely with hospitals throughout the state to make sure they are prepared should there be an incident,” Wendelken explained. “For example, ensuring that patients were still able to get their medication if there wasn’t access to electronic medical records.”

Below is a statement released Monday night by Congressman Langevin.

“The so-called ‘WannaCry’ ransomware has caused significant disruption around the globe due to its unusually high degree of infectivity. Thankfully, that trait can be countered with a Microsoft Windows patch that has been available since March. I implore all computer users to update their systems immediately, and, where possible, enable automatic software updates.

“I have often said that cybersecurity is the national security challenge of the 21st Century, and WannaCry demonstrates the massive disruption malicious software can cause. Business leaders, particularly those in critical infrastructure industries, must make cybersecurity a risk management priority if we are to stave off the inevitable next wave of attacks. The government, too, needs to step up efforts to improve its cybersecurity posture, and the President must act immediately to fill critical vacancies in cybersecurity posts.

“While the WannaCry incident is ongoing, I have thus far been impressed by the information sharing between security researchers, governments, and affected organizations. WannaCry is an international security challenge, and it demonstrates the vulnerabilities all connected countries share on the Internet. Law enforcement agencies around the world must work together swiftly to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

FRN: New legislation would provide student loan debt relief for parents of disabled children

FRN: New legislation would provide student loan debt relief for parents of disabled children

By Financial Regulation News Reports

Legislation that would provide student loan debt relief for parents whose children become permanently disabled was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this week.

Most federal student loans are discharged if the student borrower dies or sustains a Total and Permanent Disability (TPD), but loans taken out by parents are only discharged if the student dies. This bill would extend disability forgiveness to parent plus loans.

The Plus Loan Disability Forgiveness Act was introduced by U.S. Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI), Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Peter Roskam (R-IL), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL).

“Student loan debt is crushing American families, and parents should not be further burdened if their child becomes disabled,” Langevin said. “Disability loan discharge applies to almost all other student loans, and it is simply wrong that a parent struggling with a child’s sudden disability is not also afforded this forgiveness. My bill would close this loophole and allow families to focus on healing, not servicing debt,” said Langevin, cofounder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus.

Thompson, a former recreational therapist, said he is familiar with the unique set of challenges parents face helping their children recover from a sudden disability.

“I am proud to work with Representative Langevin to streamline the student loan disability forgiveness process and help provide certainty to families coping with life-changing events,” he said.

The act would expand on a provision passed by Congress in the Third Higher Education Extension Act of 2006, which authorized the TPD discharge of parent plus loans for students who became disabled as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“Adapting to the permanent disability of a child takes a nearly unimaginable toll on any family. The federal government offers to forgive student loan debt in these circumstances – and it’s the right thing to do,” Roskam said. “Unfortunately, the government extends this forgiveness to some loans and not others.”

More than 44 million student loan borrowers owe $1.4 trillion in student loan debt in the United States, and the average 2016 college graduate owes over $37,000 in student loan debt.

“Student debt is a tremendous burden for millions of American families, and our government already rightly forgives debts taken on by students who become disabled,” Krishnamoorthi said. “Parents taking out loans to pay for their child’s education should also be eligible to have those loans discharged if their child suddenly becomes disabled. I’m proud to work with my colleagues to close this loophole.”

FCW: Congress pushes DOD on IT acquisition agility

FCW: Congress pushes DOD on IT acquisition agility

By Sean D. Carberry

Members of Congress and panelists alike hinted to a certain sense of deja vu at an April 26 hearing on creating a flexible and effective information technology management and acquisition system in the Department of Defense.

“For years, Congress, the executive branch and industry have attempted to bring DOD’s IT programs and processes into the 21st Century,” said Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the House Armed Services Committee Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee hearing.

“Despite attempts like the Joint Information Environment and streamlining of acquisition processes, DOD’s pace to improve its IT posture is not progressing with the desired speed to achieve serious efficiencies, increase security, and take advantage of enhanced capabilities that are readily available,” he said.

Recently retired DOD CIO Terry Halvorsen stressed the need for the Pentagon to buy commercial off the shelf IT systems and services in all cases unless a compelling argument is made otherwise.

He and Levine argued that DOD often spends more on customizing commercial products than it did on the original purchase, and that DOD needs to change its culture to accept commercial products.

Halvorsen, who now works for Samsung, said that also means the Pentagon needs to stop doing its own security testing of commercially proven products.

“The security accreditation process is costing both the government and industry lots of money and doing a disservice to … our service members for how long it takes to get those products certified,” he said. He added that Congress should pass legislation allowing the DOD to accept industry accreditation.

Halvorsen also said Congress needs to look at giving the DOD CIO more flexibility to make small purchases to test technology without having to go through a lengthy approval process.

“I had a $37 billion budget,” he said. “Yet I couldn’t authorize a million dollars if I saw great technology to put right on the table. That doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to me.”

Giving the CIO more flexibility to watch industry trends and make small, targeted purchases would drive rapid acquisition, he said.

Witnesses also acknowledged that while there has been progress in recent years, both through legislative changes and internal reforms at DOD, the Pentagon still has not implemented a 2009 Defense Science Board recommendation to create a distinct IT acquisition system.

“DOD tries to ensure that change management and business process reengineering take place concurrently with new business systems acquisitions, but it has not been easy,” said Peter Levine, former DOD deputy chief management officer.

He said that acquisition officials often lack authority and expertise in business process reengineering, and management officials have “proven to be incapable of running large acquisitions.”

Though, he added that the DOD recently issued new guidance on business system acquisition, which he said was a first step towards a stand alone IT acquisition system.

“This new instruction appropriately sequences for the first time decision points regarding business solutions, IT solutions, and acquisition solutions, so that we don’t have these redundant processes going on side by side,” Levine said.

Panelists argued that another barrier to agile acquisition is the focus on acquisition process compliance rather that prioritizing product outcome and the effectiveness of the financial spend.

When asked how the Trump administration’s buy American policy would affect IT acquisition, panelists warned that such restrictions could be harmful for the DOD.

The focus should be on excluding purchases from high-risk countries, they said.

“There are some U.S. companies I wouldn’t want to buy from, because when you look at their components, they’re all from countries I don’t want,” said Halvorsen.

He said CIOs for allied nations have the authority not to purchase from domestic companies when there are supply chain concerns, and they can turn to companies from other allied nations.

“We ought to have that kind of flexibility to make those decisions when it’s in the best interest of defense,” Halvorsen said.

Cranston Herald: Langevin visits after-school program at Bain

Cranston Herald: Langevin visits after-school program at Bain

By Jen Cowart

On Wednesday, April 12 Congressman Jim Langevin visited the Bain after-school program at Hugh B. Bain Middle School to check in with the students there and hear about the benefits they have seen, both academic and social-emotional, as a result of their participation in the extended day programs. The 21st Century Community Learning Center federal grant funding, which funds Cranston’s before and after school programming at Bain and Gladstone’s Kidventure programs as well as their Camp XL summer and vacation week programming, is one of the items at the top of Donald Trump’s list of items to be cut from the federal budget. The visit was part of Langevin’s continued efforts to show the importance of maintaining funding for these types of programs.
Bain is a STEAM site, which means that a focus is placed on program activities which incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics and Computer Science and which help students to be college and career ready. Although the program services approximately 200 students, the Bain Student Leadership Team, part of the Youth Empowerment Zone, a student-centered group, was on hand to greet the congressman, take him on a tour of a variety of the programs taking place and to answer any questions he might have as they shared their stories. A group of high school alumni from the program were also present. The students on hand were: Ajie Fatou Jagne, Alexander Lombardi, Melody Quenga, Avery Hart and Asia Hall. The high school students also on hand were: Aaron Short, Olivia Peters, Sophia Chan, Sebastian Borgia, Odalis Sandoval, Naraly Barrios and Sujeiry Payano Coste.
Adults who were there to greet Congressman Langevein as he arrived at Bain were Principal Jeff Taylor, Joseph Rotz, Executive Director of Educational Programs and Services, Ayana Crichton, Program Director for Cranston’s After School Programs, and Sara DeCosta-Hayes from the Elizabeth Buffam Chace Center, one of the program’s many vital community partners. Additionally, several high school students returned to speak to the congressman about their role as volunteers and mentors with the programs since moving on to high school, and to speak to the need for continued programming for students beyond the middle school years in addition to the programs which exist for students in grades K-8.

Welcoming the congressman

The leadership team greeted Langevin as he arrived and took some time to share some initial stories with him before they moved indoors. Aaron Short told Langevin that he has been attending the extended day programs since he was 9, and is now a high school student.
“I started in first grade, and I have gone to every program, every session, every year, since I was able,” he said. “I have loved it ever since I joined. I have been volunteering with the programs but I hope to get a job with them this summer. It’s been an outstanding experience for me.”
Sophia Chan echoed his sentiments and shared that although she has spent less years in the program, the impact has been great. As the state representative for Fuel Up to Play 60, a fitness and nutrition program, Chan has helped to facilitate the program at both Bain and Cranston High School West where she is currently a student.
Sujiere Payano emphasized that without Bain she would not have made it to high school, as she was struggling academically, and credited the program for helping her to close the gap and be successful in school.
“I’m 100 percent sure I’d still be in the eighth grade,” she said.
When asked, Crichton explained that the before and after school programs and the vacation week and camp programs are 100 percent dependent on funding through grant partnerships and federal funding.
“We receive approximately $109,000 a year from the 21st Century funding and about $25,000-$35,000 a year in extra grants through city, state and federal programs and through in-kind programs. She cited the Elizabeth Buffam Chace partnership as one such vital relationship which the program relies on.
“You will see a mission to Mars”

As the group moved indoors for their tour, Avery Hart, the leadership team’s Vice President, introduced Langevin to the Green Thumb Club which was working outdoors in the school’s courtyard, helping to assemble a greenhouse which had been moved from Gladstone’s Kidventure location over to Bain after having had repeated incidents of vandalism at the elementary location. Now the students were re-assembling it and getting ready for the plants, including eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and flowering plants which will be used for beautification of the school grounds, to go in.
“Will there be enough sunlight to heat the greenhouse in this spot?” Langevin asked Hart.
“Yes, we have solar panel experts working on a plan for heating it with solar energy,” she answered.
“It looks well-protected here, it looks like it’s going to be very successful,” Langevin said.
During the tour, several of the students described a NASA competition project they participated in past years and Hart described her involvement with the competition this year.
“This year NASA had us collect cloud data from the ground, because their satellites can collect data from, above the clouds, but not from below them,” she said. “On Tuesdays and Thursdays we would measure the ground temperature, the soil temperature and see how the clouds were affecting the temperatures. We submitted that data to NASA and we were recognized for our work. There were many other groups across the country also submitting data from their locations in order to give NASA the whole picture.”
When Langevin questioned what sort of tools were used for collecting their temperature data, Hart explained that an Infrared Thermometer IRT gun, was used, due to the ease of collecting temperatures measured in Celsius.
“NASA told us that they really liked seeing past years’ students coming back to volunteer,” Crichton said.
“The project gave me a greater appreciation for science than before,” Hart said. “I used to think science was just a class I had to take in school, but now I am actually interested in seeing what I can do with it and what it’s used for.”
“Technology is changing things very quickly and in your lifetime, you will see a mission to Mars,” Langevin said. “I hope I’m around to see it too, but know that these are careers you can go into. You can be a part of the next challenge, of finding the next planet, the next solar system.
“I’m planning to protect this funding in D.C.”

Langevin talked briefly about the loan forgiveness program Rhode Island has put into place for students who graduate with a degree in a STEM field and stay and work in the state.
“We are trying to put the resources in place for you to pursue a college education or advanced training in a Career and Technical Education field,” he said.
The students took Langevin to visit the Comics program, which was working on creating comic books and a giant mural that had an environmental science theme to them.
Langevin spoke to the students and complimented their work, which was being facilitated by Walker Mettling.
As the tour headed to its final spot, the STEM Center classroom which showed evidence of STEM projects from years past, from rocketry to bridge building, the Sew Bain sewing club students described their recent project, designing and hand-sewing clothing to be sent to poor children in Latin American countries, Langevin pledged to continue to fight for support of programs such as the ones at Bain and Kidventure in Cranston.
“I’m planning to protect this funding in DC,” he said. “We are battling against the President and his desire to cut these programs. Keep up the good work, I’m very proud of you. You can’t underestimate the value of programs like this and of the mentors who go off to high school and college, and then come back to mentor the next generation. It’s so important to set good examples, to share your experiences. It’s so meaningful.”
Catelyn Blankenship is the assistant site coordinator for Bain and Kidventure, and told Langevin her own story of after school programming and its impact on her life.
“I have been involved in the program since I was in it as a sixth-grader,” she said. “I went to Gladstone, to Bain and as a high school student I volunteered in the programs. I became an instructor, and now I am an assistant coordinator. I went to Johnson and Wales and just transferred to RIC so that I can pursue a degree in education.”
As the Langevin prepared to leave, the students handed him letters they had written, asking for support of the funding needed for their programs. Langevin thanked them for the letters and encouraged them to keep reaching out to their legislators, right up to the President at the White House, and to keep fighting for funding.
“I am fascinated by the work you do here, thank you for sharing it with me and for these letters,” he said. “Keep sharing your stories and don’t underestimate how important that is. We understand the importance of this funding, but not everyone feels the same way. It’s our job to make the case for it because it’s so important beyond your time in this program. These skills and this confidence will last you a lifetime.”

Cranston Herald: Langevin presents Purple Heart to widow of World War II veteran

Cranston Herald: Langevin presents Purple Heart to widow of World War II veteran

On Friday Congressman Jim Langevin presented Cranston resident Mrs. Carol Liebrich, the widow of World War II veteran Robert Liebrich, with a Purple Heart with a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, signifying the second Purple Heart he has received. 

When he was just 18 years old, Private First Class (PFC) Liebrich was shot in the abdomen by enemy fire in events leading up to the Battle of the Bulge, which began in December 1944 and was the last major German offensive campaign of the war. He earned his first Purple Heart from this injury.

After a quick recovery, PFC Liebrich returned to his unit, and then in March 1945, in a different engagement with opposing forces, he was shot in his right arm by enemy fire but was not awarded the second Purple Heart for the injury at that time.

Congressman Langevin assisted Mrs. Liebrich to petition the Department of the Army for the second Purple Heart that was rightfully her late husband’s. After talking with the National Personal Records Center, the proper documentation was found, and the Purple Heart with a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster was hand-delivered to Mrs. Liebrich and members of her family at Langevin’s office.

“We owe our soldiers who fought in World War II an enormous debt of gratitude, and PFC Liebrich is no exception,” said Congressman Langevin. “I was honored to work with the Army to correct this oversight, and it was a true privilege to present Mrs. Liebrich and her family the Purple Heart for Robert Liebrich’s heroism.”

“My husband would have been so honored,” said Mrs. Liebrich. “Thank you, Congressman Langevin, for helping me get this award for my husband for his service in World War II.”

Robert Liebrich, 88, passed away in 2014.

Warwick Post: Reed, Langevin, Whitehouse Meet With Kent County Residents at Coventry High

Warwick Post: Reed, Langevin, Whitehouse Meet With Kent County Residents at Coventry High

By Rob Borkowski

COVENTRY, RI — Residents from Kent County, including a few from Warwick, filled Coventry High School’s auditorium Sunday afternoon for a town hall meeting with Sen. Jack Reed,(D-RI), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), learning a few things about national politics, praising the Congressmen, and venting about healthcare and the investigation of possible collusion with Russian efforts to weaken the United States.
A packed house greeted the delegation, who were joined by State Rep. Jared R. Nunes (D-Dist. 25,Coventry, West Warwick) and Jon-Paul Capece, a member of the Thundermist Health Center Board of Directors.

Capece told the audience of the care he received thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which had just survived Republican-led replacement option, the American Healthcare Act, that would’ve reduced federal deficits by $337 billion over the 2017-2026, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office.

The GOP legislation would’ve also resulted in about 24 million fewer people receiving health insurance. In 2018, 14 million fewer people were projected to be covered, most of whom were anticipated to discard coverage without the federal mandate to seek coverage under the current Affordable Care Act. Many of the people required to seek coverage under the ACA were part of a plan to increase younger Americans’ participation in the health care system, which they would not use as much, helping to pay for the care of older Americans, who are typically more likely to need medical care.

Capece said that about five years ago, he suffered from an opiate addiction, and was on the edge of suicide, only receiving the treatment necessary to save his life thanks to the ACA, also known as Obamacare. He said the details of his struggle were unimportant.

“What is important is that you all realize that this happened to me, one of your neighbors. A kid with all the potential in the world who was nurtured in the most ideal environment. What is important is that if it happened to me, it could happen to your son, your father or mother, your daughter or sister,” Capece said.

“I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I am alive today because of the care I received through the ACA. In order for me to get healthy, I needed a lot of help. Help that, had I no insurance, my parents could not have paid for.”

Today, he said, he works for a non-profit prisoner-community re-entry program at the ACI called 9 Yards and is an associate adjunct professor at Roger Williams University. “Most importantly, however…” Capece’s speech was interrupted by applause, “Most importantly, however, I am a contributing, tax-paying member of society, who now pays for his insurance.

“So my life has come full circle, from a dead beat drug addict, whose life was turned around, by receiving Medicaid assisted health insurance, to a man who now pays into that same system, so that others may have the opportunity to do what I have done,” Capece said.

That comment earned Capece a much longer round of applause.

Reed credited average Americans, such as the ones in the room Sunday, with defeating the GOP attempt to undo the ACA. “The real thanks go to you. You, embracing fully, not just your right, but your responsibilities as American citizens to come out, let your voices be heard, and not just in Rhode Island, but all across this country,” Reed said.

Reed noted a large part of the GOP healthcare plan savings would’ve been borne on the backs of senior citizens. Under the ACA, insurance companies can only charge a senior three times what they might charge a younger person. “They pushed that to five,” Reed said.

“Guess what the companies were going to do as soon as this became law? They were going to hike the amount paid by seniors,” Reed said.

Langevin noted the defeat of the GOP healthcare plan ought to clear the field for honest attempts to improve the ACA. “I would hope that by now they (Republicans) got the message that if they want to get something accomplished, they have to do it in a bipartisan manner,” Langevin said.

Reed also spoke about the Congressional and FBI investigations into possible collusion between members of President Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russian government during the November 2016 election that placed the real estate businessman in power.

“I think we need to go further. I think we need to have a special prosecutor, ” Reed said.

Special prosecutors are appointed to investigate and prosecute specific legal cases of potential wrongdoing in which a conflict of interest exists for the usual prosecuting authority. The first,Archibald Cox, was appointed by President Nixon in 1973 to investigate the Watergate scandal. Nixon fired him and Leon Jaworski took his place, conducting an inquiry that led to Nixon’s resignation according to a summary of the history on the Center for Legal and Economic Studies’ outline of the process.

The subject of conflicts of interest in the investigation rose last week when Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the leader of the US House investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with the Russians, communicated information about the investigation with the White House, before sharing that information with his fellow investigators.

Reed noted the investigation shouldn’t just focus on what has happened thus far with the Russians, but also look into ways to prevent such interference in the future. “This is the new normal with the Russians,” Reed said.

Several people lined up to praise and thank the Congressmen for their efforts to preserve the ACA and seek answers on Russian interference with American government, and each of their comments were met enthusiastic applause throughout the meeting. The atmosphere from the comments and supporting cheers and applause was one of relief that the ACA had survived, and rage that the Russians had intruded into American politics, and that their fellow Americans may have aided that effort.

Whitehouse encouraged members of the audience to read “The Kremlin Playbook,” which details Russian strategy in subverting enemy governments. “It’s free, and it reads like a novel. It’s really oppressive. And one of the things that they describe as the constant tool in the Russian election manipulation toolbox, all through the former Soviet states, and now, down into Europe, is that they get people entangled in business arrangements. Really lucrative business arrangements, that look a lot like, maybe even bribes. And then they’ve got the person, because they can do one of two things. They can keep bribing them and keep them more or less on the payroll, or they can blow the whistle on them, and out them as having been basically on the payroll. And that threat allows them to control the politician, who fears that their dealings will be exposed.”

Whitehouse noted the only way to know if that is happening is if an investigator has access to the person’s tax returns. Trump has refused to turn over his tax returns, first during the election itself and then after having won the presidency.

Once man, Scott Malloy of Exeter, retired professor emeritus at URI delivered a stinging condemnation of the situation.

“You know, we live in an era of swirling issues that separate friends and neighbors, and relatives. But one thing stands out above everything else, above healthcare, taxes, nominations, and walls. A subject that actually should unite us, is that Russian espionage has damaged our political system, attacks thousands of emails from one party only, has crossed the borders with thousands of cyber attacks, and bribed influential United States officials. But there is no treason without traitors. And we can go back to Judas, to Benedict Arnold, Vidkun Quisling, who sold Norway out to the Nazis in World War II. And now we have some Americans embracing the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union where dissidents, opponets, even parliamentary representatives, are assassinated, and those culprits are never brought to justice.” A loud round of applause filled the auditorium as Mallow paused.

“Here in America, the Trojan Horse, has breached the boundary and unloaded its cargo, and inside that Trojan Horse were no hispanic immigrants, but agents working against the interests of America. If we’re not careful, every traitorous step will lengthen into a goose-step. And Vladimir Lenin, has become Vladimir Putin, has become Vladimir Trump.

“Let me say, in conclusion, that only we people here, and you legislators and representatives, stand between traditional American liberties and Russian serfdom. Lock them up! Lock them up!

Malloy’s speech received perhaps the greatest number of cheers and applause of the afternoon, lasting for nearly a minute.

“There is no underestimating the severity of what took place in the last election,” Reed said. At the highest levels, there was an order to go in and hack into numerous websites, use that information to undermine Hillary Clinton’s campaign in favor of Trump, he said.

The effort also involved thousands of trolls and bots engaged in spreading disinformation across the internet, turning propaganda into trending stories that seemed credible to many.

“(FBI) Director Comey made it very clear they were investigating some individual associated with the Trump campaign,” Reed said.

Reed called for a joint committee to investigate Russian interference, past and potential. “This is not just about history, this is about the future of our Democracy, Reed said.

WPRI: Health care reform a hot topic at Coventry ‘town hall’

WPRI: Health care reform a hot topic at Coventry ‘town hall’

By Kim Kalunian

COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) – Three members of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation hosted a town hall meeting in Coventry Sunday afternoon.

Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, with Rep. Jim Langevin, met with attendees Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Coventry High School Auditorium.

The meeting came on the heels of Friday’s news that House Republicans were withdrawing their proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly called “Obamacare.”

“I believe that Washington heard you loud and clear,” Langevin told the crowd assembled Sunday. “It turned up the heat so much, in a bipartisan way, on members of the House and Senate, particularly on the House side, because the ACA repeal and replace effort, I believe, is dead.”

Many in the crowd expressed relief that the Republicans’ efforts failed on Friday. Senator Reed told Eyewitness News that seemed to be the way the majority of constituents felt.

“Right now, I think a lot of people, even those who have supported Trump’s campaign are saying, ‘This is not going to help me, and why is he doing this?’” he said.

Some at Sunday’s gathering said it was time for the entirely Democratic delegation to push even further and seek to implement a single-payer health care system. Others said the ACA wasn’t as affordable as its name claimed.

“I mean, there’s plenty of room for us to work together, if [the Republicans] would only try,” said Whitehouse when asked about bipartisan efforts on health care moving forward.

In addition to health care, some attendees voiced questions and concerns about President Trump’s proposed budget, as well as the ongoing investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia.

Reed said he favors the appointment of a special prosecutor, something he said he’ll be advocating for upon his return to D.C.

RIPR: RI Congressional Delegation Slams Most Of President Trump’s Budget Proposal

RIPR: RI Congressional Delegation Slams Most Of President Trump’s Budget Proposal

By Ximena Conde

After President Trump released his proposed budget, Rhode Island’s congressional delegation was quick to denounce various cuts that would affect the state.

Congressman David Cicilline called cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget reckless. Cicilline said programs like WIC, which feeds low-income pregnant women and Meals on Wheels were taking huge cuts to fund a border wall.

Congressman Jim Langevin said the proposed budget cuts would bring insecurity to everyday Americans citing plans to pull resources from work training initiatives and affordable housing programs. Langevin expressed support for the president’s plans to boost defense spending but raised concerns over cuts to State Department funding.

In a statement, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse echoed the sentiment that Trump’s budget would hurt the working class.

“This proposal would gut programs that support jobs, education, and public health for all Americans, while handing out favors to the wealthy and big corporations,” said White House.

The senator said the proposal was “chock full of terrible ideas.”

Sen. Jack Reed criticized the president for failing to outline a concrete plan for economic growth.

Reed called out the president for not following through on his promise to invest $1 trillion in the country’s infrastructure.

“In fact, his budget blueprint for the U.S. Department of Transportation is proposing a 13% reduction in discretionary spending from the fiscal year 2016 enacted level,” said Reed in a statement.

Later Thursday afternoon, Reed spoke against proposals that would eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Institute of Museum and Library Services.