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.

PROJO:  Interfaith rally at R.I. Holocaust Memorial condemns anti-Semitic acts

PROJO: Interfaith rally at R.I. Holocaust Memorial condemns anti-Semitic acts

PROVIDENCE — Some 300 people of various faiths and backgrounds gathered in the cold Sunday by the Rhode Island Holocaust Memorial to condemn recent acts of anti-Semitism around the country and share a warm message of unity against hatred.

Imam Mufti Ikram, of the Rhode Island Council for Muslim Advancement, set the tone for the afternoon rally with an opening prayer: “We are here to stand shoulder to shoulder with our Jewish brothers and sisters,” he said. “We ask you to replace the hatred of the few with the mercy and compassion in us all.”
Ehsun Mirza, a critical-care doctor at Kent Hospital who immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan in 1999, organized Sunday’s rally after news last week of Jewish cemeteries being vandalized in St. Louis and Philadelphia and some 120 bomb threats called in to Jewish schools and community centers, including the Jewish Community Center in Providence.

“I want to make sure that everyone understands that Jews are part of this community and any threat on them is a threat to our community and we will stand beside them,” said Mirza. “We will not give in to this hateful rhetoric. We are stronger together.”

The rally drew a variety of religious representatives and elected officials, including U.S. Sen. Jack Reed and U.S. Representatives James Langevin and David Cicilline. They all delivered a similar message: that persecution of one religious group must be soundly denounced by all.

Cicilline took the theme further politically, saying “every American” has the responsibility to condemn these acts of hate against a religious minority “including the president.”

But President Donald Trump has “suggested that Jews might be responsible” for some of the anti-Semitic acts, Cicilline said, and he criticized the president as well for implementing an “unconstitutional” travel ban “based on religion.”

Gov. Gina Raimondo told the crowd, many of whom had donned yellow ribbons of friendship, that “we are lucky to live in a state founded on religious [freedom] and strong enough to stand here against hate.”
She quoted from a 1790 letter that President George Washington wrote to the Jewish congregation in Newport that had established the nation’s first synagogue: “To bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”
Members of Rhode Island’s Jewish community thanked the hundreds of people who turned out for their unwavering support.

“This is a beautiful display of love,” said Mitzi Berkelhammer, chairwoman of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island. “And we are grateful to all of you.”

Rabbi Sarah Mack, president of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island, said, “Let the lessons of the past teach us; we will not stand idly by… We will not allow racism and hatred in our beloved Rhode Island.

“This,” she said, referring to the shivering but smiling crowd, “is what ‘Never Again’ looks like.”

Valley Breeze: Ponaganset High students advocate for inclusion in high school setting

Valley Breeze: Ponaganset High students advocate for inclusion in high school setting

GLOCESTER – Two weeks ago, among the pinstripe suits and bureaucrats of Capitol Hill, stood two Ponganset High School students, brushing shoulders with lawmakers and leaders in an effort to promote the integration of students with intellectual disabilities in public institutions. Leeann Phillips and Sarah Charbonneau were the two students asked by Special Olympics of Rhode Island CEO Dennis DeJesus to head to Washington D.C., along with Ponaganset teacher Jennifer Paolantonio, for the Special Olympics 15th annual Capitol Hill Day.

Their goal was to share how inclusion and acceptance could be promoted in the high school atmosphere.

“They felt we embodied that better than any school in the state,” Paolantonio said.

Phillips is a 20-year-old who lives with Down Syndrome and is part of a program at Ponaganset that integrates and assimilates students with special needs with the rest of the student population.

For Phillips, who has been a Special Olympics participant since she was a kid, the Unified sports program at the school has been especially important. The program brings together Special Olympics athletes and classmates in school as teammates on a unified team. It’s one of the main activities that Phillips says helps her make friends and just have fun, like every high school student.
But Phillips has been an advocate for herself long before her trip to Washington.

Two years ago, on National Down Syndrome Awareness Day, she gave a presentation to her school about the genetic condition.

Last year, she helped organize the “Spread the word to end the word” campaign at Ponaganset High School, which asked students to make a pledge of respect, instead of using the offensive and outdated slur for people with Down Syndrome – “retarded.”

Charbonneau is one of the students who took that pledge to spread inclusivity, and she happens to be Phillips’ teammate with Unified sports.

“I wanted to be a part of it from the start,” Charbonneau said of her involvement with Unified.

When the pair went to Washington D.C, they met Congressman David Cicilline, Congressman Jim Langevin, DeJesus, and even Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

“I cannot believe the kind of commitment and dedication it takes to compete,” DeVos said at a gathering that week.

While Phillips enjoyed the work, when asked which part of the excursion she liked most, she focused on friendship.

“Probably hanging out with Sarah and Ms. Paolantonio,” Phillips said.

Charbonneau will be pursuing a nursing degree in the fall, and continuing her volunteerism.

As for Phillips, she won’t be turning away from the spotlight any time soon.

“My dream is to be famous,” Phillips said.

Politico: House Democrats plan to troll Trump at big speech

Politico: House Democrats plan to troll Trump at big speech

By Heather Caygle

House Democrats are seizing on President Donald Trump’s first major speech to Congress Tuesday as an opportunity to troll the new president in prime time.

Many of the same Democrats who boycotted Trump’s inauguration are choosing not to skip his first address to Congress as president, instead opting to bring guests directly affected by the administration’s controversial policies on immigration and refugees and Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare.
“It’s my hope that gallery is going to look like America,” said Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), who is leading an effort to have his colleagues bring diverse guests Tuesday and will be joined by Rhode Island Dr. Ehsun Mirza, a Muslim-American born in Pakistan. “It’s another reminder to the president that he’s not the arbiter of patriotism.”

The effort is designed to put a human face on Trump’s immigration and refugee policies — and perhaps steal a bit of the spotlight from the president’s big speech. Though it’s unlikely to resonate much beyond Tuesday night, members said doing something is better than nothing.

Langevin started urging fellow Democrats to invite guests affected by Trump’s policies when the administration unexpectedly rolled out a travel ban for seven Muslim countries. Trump has since said he’ll issue a similar executive order that can withstand legal challenges soon.

Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) invited Hameed Darweesh, an Iraqi interpreter who worked with the U.S. army for a decade overseas and was detained before the travel ban was struck down by federal courts.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) will be accompanied by Banah Alhanfy, a young Iraqi woman who was temporarily separated from her family, including her Iraqi-interpreter father, because of the executive order.
Langevin expects 10 to 15 of his colleagues and their guests to participate in a press conference railing against Trump’s policies Tuesday.

Several other lawmakers are focusing on the administration’s recent moves to beef up immigration enforcement, which Democrats warn is just the beginning stages of mass deportations.

“We’re trying to not just tell the president, but we’re trying to tell the country, apparently tolerance and justice issues require ongoing lessons,” Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) said.
Quigley is one of a handful of members inviting a so-called “Dreamer,” an undocumented immigrant brought here as a minor, to Trump’s speech. Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) are also bringing Dreamers as guests.

Trump has said Dreamers are safe from deportation, despite the administration’s efforts to expand immigration enforcement elsewhere, but many Democrats have said they don’t trust the president to not change his mind later.

Arizona Democratic Reps. Raul Grijalva and Ruben Gallego are bringing the children of an undocumented immigrant who was recently deported during a routine check-in with enforcement officials.

Other lawmakers have invited Muslim guests who have been victims of hate crimes.

Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s guest is Aneelah Afzali, a Muslim-American and longtime local community activist. Afzali’s local mosque was vandalized after the election.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (N.Y.) has invited Sarker Haque, a Queens business owner who was attacked in his store in 2015, allegedly by a man claiming he wanted to “kill Muslims.”

More than a dozen Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats are bringing constituents who would be affected by Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare.

And Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) is leading a separate effort encouraging members to invite law enforcement officials and first responders to call attention to Republican efforts to roll back gun restrictions in the post-Obama era.

“There’s been some pretty troubling action coming out of Congress in regard to [guns],” Thompson said in an interview.

Congress recently sent a bill to the president’s desk that would roll back restrictions on mentally ill senior citizens buying guns. Thompson said other GOP efforts to push legislation that would circumvent state laws on concealed carry permits and allow the purchase of gun silencers over the counter are just as troubling.

Rep. Elizabeth Esty, whose Connecticut district includes Newtown, along with Reps. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) and Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), are participating in Thompson’s effort and will join him at a Tuesday press conference.

“We’re trying to be proactive here and let folks know what the Trump administration and what the Republican Congress is pushing,” said Thompson, who chairs the caucus’ gun violence task force. “I’m a glass is half full kind of guy but this is something that I’ve never experienced before.”

NBC10: Area activists hold rallies in Rhode Island

NBC10: Area activists hold rallies in Rhode Island

By Jared Pelletier

Hundreds of people attended two separate events in Providence on Saturday where activists spoke out against President Donald Trump.

On Saturday morning, members of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation hosted a “Protect Our Care” rally at Rhode Island College in Providence.

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act spoke in an effort to urge Republican lawmakers to not repeal or replace what’s often referred to as “Obamacare.”

“This delegation, we hear you. We hear you and we’re ready to fight for you,” said Congressman Jim Langevin.

At Hope High School in Providence Saturday afternoon, a group called “Resist Hate RI” hosted a community meeting.

People who are anti-President Trump attended workshops focusing on several issues.

This was the fourth community meeting event the group has held.

“Part of what we’re trying to do here is make change right here in Rhode Island, There are laws in the state that we need to change. We need to enact protections for reproductive rights,”

said Craig O’Connor, Rhode Island Director of Public Policy and Government Relations with Planned Parenthood of Southern New England.

Organizers say the purpose of the event was to educate people about getting involved with political activism.

According to organizers, approximately 800 people attended the community event at Hope High School.

Buzzfeed: A Democratic Congressman Wants To Consolidate The Russia Investigations

Buzzfeed: A Democratic Congressman Wants To Consolidate The Russia Investigations

By Lissandra Villa

WASHINGTON — A House Democrat has introduced a resolution calling for a joint House and Senate committee on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Rhode Island Rep. Jim Langevin introduced the resolution Tuesday afternoon to consolidate several different investigations into foreign interference in the election already in progress in Congress. Several committees in Congress have already said they are investigating.

“There are multiple investigations going on right now that poses potential jurisdiction barriers or battles,” Langevin told BuzzFeed News. “A joint subcommittee would cut across all jurisdictional barriers and bounds and would streamline the investigation.”

The need for this joint committee has grown more urgent given Gen. Michael Flynn’s resignation from the role of national security adviser in President Donald Trump’s administration, Langevin said.

Democrats have been calling for an independent, nonpartisan commission since December —legislation that Langevin said he would support in addition to the joint committee he is hoping to establish— but have failed to get Republicans on board with the idea.

In the House, Republicans have said they think more investigation into the matter would be redundant. In addition to the House’s intelligence committee, the Senate’s foreign affairs and armed services committees and the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism are also looking into the matter. In the Senate, there are Republicans who say the growing number of congressional arms looking into Russia is growing cumbersome.

A number of Republicans have already dismissed the idea of a bicameral commission, including House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker Paul Ryan and chairman of the House intelligence committee Rep. Devin Nunes.

“It just makes so much sense to do this in a comprehensive, streamlined way since it’s already happening right now in a disjointed way,” Langevin said. He added he has had preliminary discussions with senators.

The resolution says the joint committee would be made up of 16 members, four from both parties in the House and Senate. The committee would be authorized to call hearings and would have access to relevant materials.