Op-Eds

07.01.19

'Knick'-Picking: Why a Recent SCOTUS Ruling Signals a New Day

by Sheldon Whitehouse

For years, back to when I argued the U.S. Supreme Court case Palazzolo v. Rhode Island as Rhode Island's attorney general, big-money developers and regulated industries and the lawyer groups that front for them have been trying to turn the Constitution's takings clause into a weapon against the government. The court's decision in Knick v. Township of Scott just gave them a big prize-and showed how much control those interests now have. At first glance, the facts in Knick are unremarkable: a par… Continue Reading


06.07.19

Saving the oceans — one place where Congress can agree

by Sheldon Whitehouse and Francis Rooney

Human beings have not always been good stewards of our oceans. We have overexploited their natural gifts, polluted their waves with garbage, acidified them with carbon dioxide, and threatened their shores with offshore drilling. Thankfully, there is bipartisan support in Washington to take action. We come from different regions, backgrounds, and political parties. Yet we are united by our passion for keeping our coasts and oceans healthy. In New England, our fishing heritage has long been tied… Continue Reading


05.26.19

The Green New Deal vote shows Republicans would rather mock climate change than challenge big lobbying groups

by Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Jared Huffman

We are from opposite coasts, serve on opposite sides of the Capitol and one of us is in the majority party while the other is in the minority, but we share one thing as members of Congress: The political experience of having a relentless adversary, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to any and all meaningful legislative solutions on climate change. We also share the experience of working with our local chambers of commerce, which represent the business community in our home states in positive, honor… Continue Reading


05.26.19

US must ‘reassert global leadership’ in nuclear energy or lose out to Russia and China

by Sheldon Whitehouse and Mike Crapo

As partisan gridlock on a few high-profile issues dominates headlines, it is easy to lose sight of goals members of both parties share. For us, one bipartisan goal is protecting America's longstanding leadership on nuclear energy. Our bipartisan work comes as American nuclear energy leadership faces stiff headwinds. Nuclear plants are shuttering nationwide due to competition from cheap natural gas. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reportedtwelve U.S. reactors with a combined ca… Continue Reading


05.02.19

We Asked William Barr Straight Questions. He Gave Crooked Answers.

by Sheldon Whitehouse

I have served on the Senate Judiciary Committee for twelve years. I have never witnessed a performance like Attorney General William Barr's on Wednesday. Here is what I saw. First, his testimony was an astonishing exercise in dissembling. Barr gave a head-spinning explanation of why he did not disclose in House testimony the letter in which Robert Mueller forcefully pushed back on Barr's initial summary of the Mueller report. He quarreled over whether his summary was a "summary." He said Specia… Continue Reading


04.26.19

The Supreme Court’s Anti-Worker Rulings Are So Routine Now That We Hardly Notice Them. Big Mistake.

by Sheldon Whitehouse

The Supreme Court's conservative bloc delivered yet another 5-4 decision helping corporate interests this week. You may not have heard about it, as these 5-4 pro-corporate rulings are now issued like clockwork. A distinct pattern has emerged among the court's "partisan" rulings, where the Roberts Five render a 5-4 decision attracting no support from the more liberal justices. This one comes at the expense of American workers. This latest partisan 5-4 decision-which came in the case of Lamps Plu… Continue Reading


03.18.19

Why I am supporting the Medicare for All Act

by Sheldon Whitehouse

Our health care system has come a long way under the Affordable Care Act. Rhode Island's health insurance exchange is a national model and our uninsured rate is among the lowest in the country. Nonetheless, many Rhode Island families and small business owners spend far too much on health care. This challenge isn't unique to Rhode Island. America's health care system is dizzyingly complex and inefficient. One consequence of that complexity is that the United States spends far more on health care… Continue Reading


03.08.19

Putin and other authoritarians’ corruption is a weapon — and a weakness

by David Petraeus and Sheldon Whitehouse

Thirty years after the end of the Cold War, the world is once again polarized between two competing visions for how to organize society. On one side are countries such as the United States, which are founded on respect for the inviolable rights of the individual and governed by rule of law. On the other side are countries where state power is concentrated in the hands of a single person or clique, accountable only to itself and oiled by corruption. Alarmingly, while Washington has grown ambival… Continue Reading


01.29.19

The Real Reason John Roberts Just Offered a Low-Stakes Win to Workers

by Sheldon Whitehouse

You'd be forgiven if, like me, you did a double-take when the Supreme Court handed down an exceedingly rare victory for workers over corporate interests this month. In an 8-0 ruling (Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not participate), the court affirmed a lower-court decision holding that independent contractors who work in transportation may not be forced into mandatory arbitration contracts. As the unanimous result in New Prime v. Oliveira suggests, and as I argued in my amicus brief to the court, t… Continue Reading


12.30.18

Taxing Carbon Emissions

by Sheldon Whitehouse

To the Editor: I must respectfully disagree with my friend John Barrasso's Op-Ed article ("Cut Carbon Through Innovation, Not Regulation," nytimes.com, Dec. 18). First, the referendum result in Washington State looked like more relentless campaigning by the fossil fuel industry against climate action; without that industry onslaught, the carbon tax referendum there would probably have passed. Second, a carbon tax is not "expensive," except maybe for fossil fuel interests, as in our proposals … Continue Reading


12.19.18

Mergers should protect R.I. patients

by Sheldon Whitehouse and Jane Hayward

We both remember when Rhode Island's major banks were headquartered here in Rhode Island. They kept management decision-making and high-paying jobs in the state while supporting local law firms, accountants, and other service providers. Bank executives provided a strong core of local civic leadership. When the banks merged out of state, it weakened the economic ecosystem. One of the best-known buildings in downtown Providence is a vacant former bank building. The same thing could happen in heal… Continue Reading


12.19.18

Stop Losing: A Senator’s Battle Plan for Beating the Right

by Sheldon Whitehouse

World War II gave us flamboyant American heroes like George Patton and Douglas MacArthur, but Winston Churchill's favorite American general was the quiet, wise, efficient George C. Marshall, whom he called the "organizer of victory." Victory has traits. Victory must be organized. Organization requires strategy, preparation, tactics, training, and teamwork. Brave and able troops have been slaughtered throughout history in failures of organization. Losing has traits, too. As Democrats, we offer … Continue Reading


04.05.18

Bipartisan bill addresses opioid concerns

by Sheldon Whitehouse

Every 25 minutes, a baby is born suffering from withdrawal because the mother is grappling with addiction. These children are heartbreaking victims of an opioid crisis that has taken brutal hold of communities across the country. Rhode Island hospitals, like Women & Infants in Providence, saw the number of babies born into opioid withdrawal nearly triple between 2006 and 2015. That's why one of the key provisions of my new bill to address this public health crisis would increase support for… Continue Reading


03.28.18

The Supreme Court must step in: Both major parties are testing American democracy by gerrymandering

by Sheldon Whitehouse and Trevor Potter

In his final months in office, President Ronald Reagan spoke out about the dangers to American democracy of partisan gerrymandering, calling it on one occasion "a great conflict of interest to ask men holding office, elected from districts, to change the lines of that district to fit the new population changes." Today, nearly 30 years later, it's looking increasingly like this is the year the Supreme Court will finally rein in a gerrymandering practice that undermines a fundamental principle … Continue Reading


03.16.18

The peculiarities of the US financial system make it ideal for money laundering

by Sheldon Whitehouse and Chuck Grassley

The lifeblood of criminal enterprises all over the world is revenue. Money fuels terrorists, transnational criminal organizations, and crooked kleptocrats. These criminals need to launder their ill-gotten gains. Although this dirty money often comes from the most corrupt, unstable countries in the world, it often ends up-ironically-in the United States. Why? Partly because we have the most stable financial system in the world, and these malefactors seek rule-of-law protection for their ill-gott… Continue Reading


02.26.18

Dark Money Union Busters

by Sheldon Whitehouse

Over the last decade, the five-justice Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court has forged a glaring pattern of 5-4 decisions that benefit Republicans at the polls and big corporations pretty much everywhere. In election-related rulings involving issues like gerrymandering and suppression of Democratic-leaning voters; in rulings where it's corporations versus humans; and, of course, in letting corporate interests to flood our elections with money, it's been a 5-4 rout in an unmistakabl… Continue Reading


02.22.18

Both Sides of the Aisle Want Better Roads and Ports

by James Inhofe and Sheldon Whitehouse

During his State of the Union address, President Trump called for a broad bipartisan infrastructure package, pledging to improve the nation's infrastructure and invest in the future. If you believe the news reports on partisan bickering in Washington, this bipartisan approach might seem impossible. But we know that it can, and will, happen. We serve on the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over most infrastructure bills. Its members include staunch conserva… Continue Reading


02.21.18

Trump is in the back pocket of billionaires

by Sheldon Whitehouse

In his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump said, "We have gone forward with a clear vision and a righteous mission -- to make America great again for all Americans." However, behind the scenes, President Trump is not calling all of the shots. While he golfs and tweets and watches cable news, several disturbingly powerful billionaires are pulling the levers and winning special treatment. So, who is behind the curtain? Carl Icahn, the billionaire investor, was brought in as "spec… Continue Reading


02.20.18

Right-wing dirty trick hurts us all

by Sheldon Whitehouse

As the president's and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes's recent actions underscore, there is a concerted effort to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in U.S. elections and possible obstruction of justice. The FBI and the Justice Department have become targets of dirty tricks. The unfair charges are gutter politics: trashing American institutions to protect a president from the due course of the law. I have served as Rhode Island's U.… Continue Reading


02.17.18

Memo on FBI spying a dirty trick

by Sheldon Whitehouse

As the president's and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes's recent actions underscore, there is a concerted effort to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in U.S. elections and possible obstruction of justice. The FBI and the Justice Department have become targets of dirty tricks. The unfair charges are gutter politics: trashing American institutions to protect a president from the due course of the law. I have served as Rhode Island's U.… Continue Reading

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