'Laudato Si'': A Call to Action for Congress

by Sheldon Whitehouse

As international pressure continues to mount for serious action on climate change, we should all be thankful for the thoughtful and inspiring words by Pope Francis in his recently published encyclical on the environment, "Luadato Si'." Giving voice to the moral urgency of this issue, the pope has bolstered the arguments of those who labor to wake up our nation and our world to the threats around us. The scientific community has been sounding the alarm for decades. Our most respected scientific … Continue Reading


Time to crack down on 'dark money'

by Sheldon Whitehouse

With an election season looming that promises to feature upwards of 20 candidates spending untold sums of cash as they vie for the White House, it's time again to take a serious look at how we can improve our broken campaign-finance system. Without serious reforms, and with so many candidates drawing support from powerful special interests, the stage is being set for a campaign that caters to the needs of everyone but the American people. How did we get to this point? Simple: Citizens United. T… Continue Reading


The fossil-fuel industry’s campaign to mislead the American people

by Sheldon Whitehouse

Fossil fuel companies and their allies are funding a massive and sophisticated campaign to mislead the American people about the environmental harm caused by carbon pollution. Their activities are often compared to those of Big Tobacco denying the health dangers of smoking. Big Tobacco's denial scheme was ultimately found by a federal judge to have amounted to a racketeering enterprise. The Big Tobacco playbook looked something like this: (1) pay scientists to produce studies defending your pr… Continue Reading


For better justice, three steps

by Sheldon Whitehouse

On the heels of the tragic events in Ferguson, Staten Island, Baltimore, and too many other communities, Americans are engaged in a renewed debate about our nation's criminal justice system. Have decades of "tough on crime" policies gone too far? Is it time to stop locking up minor offenders for extended periods of time? How can we improve trust between the police and poor, often minority, communities? These are questions worth asking. And there are clear policy responses to some of them. For i… Continue Reading


Right-Wing Groups Get Overheated on Climate Questions

by Sheldon Whitehouse

In late February, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Sen. Ed Markey, and I sent a letter to 100 companies, trade groups, and other organizations affiliated with the fossil fuel industry asking whether they spent money to support climate research. That letter provoked a torrent of criticism from conservative groups and publications mischaracterizing our motives and muddling our message. I'd like to set the record straight. So why did we do this? Because we know that financial incentives can affect behavior. Th… Continue Reading


The GOP Budget: Every Tax Loophole Is Sacred

by Sheldon Whitehouse

Every tax loophole is sacred. That's the prime guiding principle of the budget Republicans are trying to push through the Senate. Republicans claim to be concerned with reducing the federal deficit, which their Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) described as a "dangerous financial crisis." But are they willing to sacrifice a single tax loophole to solve the problem? No. And that's telling about their real priorities. The Republican roadmap for the coming decade would cut governmen… Continue Reading


Senator Harry Reid and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: GOP in denial on climate change

by Harry Reid and Sheldon Whitehouse

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., recently condemned President Obama's proposed standards to limit carbon pollution from big power plants - pollution that is now totally unregulated. Conspicuously missing from the majority leader's argument was one simple, yet extraordinarily important phrase: "climate change." Republicans in Congress have no plan to address climate change and cannot even bear to utter the words. Even worse, the majority leader wants to impose on states his irrespon… Continue Reading


Celebrating 40 Years of the Endangered Species Act

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

In Rhode Island, our way of life has always been tied to the sea. The ocean provides food for our table, attracts tourists to our shores and gives us an appreciation for the wonders of our planet. Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound support jobs in trade, fishing, boat and ship building, and soon, we hope, offshore wind energy. New England's coasts are home to North Atlantic right whales, which migrate along our coastline, as do humpback and fin whales. Hawksbill, Kemp's ridley and leatherb… Continue Reading


Let's Have the President's Back on Climate Change

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

Every week that the Senate is in session -- 37 times and counting -- I speak out about the need for Congress to wake up and address climate change. I urge my colleagues to take action to protect our planet and future generations, and I try to show the abundant evidence that if we fail to act, the consequences will be dire. And yet, Congress continues to sleepwalk -- refusing to act, or to even have a serious debate about the most significant long-term threat facing our world. A barricade of spe… Continue Reading


This Is Real: Climate Change Not Only Hurts the Planet, It’s Already Hurting You

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

Today, as we celebrate Earth Day, we are faced with an important choice: will we let the big polluters continue to poison our air and water, and mislead the American public about the damage done by carbon pollution? Or will we rise to the challenge of our time and break through the barricade of special interests that blocks action on climate change in Washington? Big polluters and deniers continue to manufacture doubt about whether climate change is real. They insist that if we just keep our he… Continue Reading


Protecting against cyber-attacks

by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Lindsey Graham

Last year, Congress failed to forge a workable framework for cybersecurity to protect the United States against a fast-growing national security and economic threat. Our cyber-networks remain dangerously vulnerable to outside attack and are the repeated targets of foreign governments intent on stealing the fruits of our intellectual and business efforts. Congress must address this crucial issue. The threat to our critical infrastructure, national security and economic prosperity was laid out in… Continue Reading


Health care savings without Medicare cuts

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

As President Barack Obama and congressional leaders continue discussions to avert the so-called fiscal cliff - the mix of tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect automatically in January - we hear a troubling but familiar refrain in Washington: To fix our deficit, we must cut Medicare benefits. That is flat-out wrong. The fact is, we have a systemwide health care cost problem in America. Health care expenditures are nearly 18 percent of our gross domestic product. The next least-effi… Continue Reading


Health Information Technology: Paving the Way to Improved Patient Care

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

In the 1950s, President Eisenhower started an interstate highway system to link our country, from Rhode Island to California. To this day, the interstate system remains the heart of our country's road infrastructure, supporting travel, commerce and transportation. This public investment paid off in long-term social and economic benefits for all Americans. Health care offers a new opportunity to build a lasting national infrastructure that will -- like our interstate highway system -- connect in… Continue Reading


Secret spending threatens democracy

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

A conservative organization backed by Karl Rove, American Crossroads, is planning to spend over $300 million in this year's elections - and he's not planning on telling anyone where most of that money is coming from. In fact, there will be over a billion dollars spent this year by Super PACs (political action committees) and other groups - and much of it is shrouded in secrecy. It's a direct threat to our democracy - and it's a direct threat to the interests of ordinary, hardworking Americans.… Continue Reading


State lawmakers must act to fight domestic violence

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act, landmark legislation that vastly improved the way our nation responded to incidences of domestic violence. As Rhode Island's attorney general, I saw first-hand how VAWA bolstered our own state's ability to protect and assist victims of domestic violence, and I am committed to protecting this important program. The law expired last year and needs to be reauthorized. The Senate voted 68-31 last week to do just that. The House of Representati… Continue Reading


Make the rich pay their fair share

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

In this time of tight budgets and tough choices, and with income-tax-filing day this Tueday, too many Rhode Islanders are feeling squeezed. To make matters worse, they're hearing about people making over $1 million a year who are actually paying a lower total federal tax rate than they are. That's just wrong. Americans deserve a straight deal, but when it comes to taxes, they're not getting one. Just look at Warren Buffett, a billionaire investor who has famously revealed that he pays a lower f… Continue Reading


Let’s Shine a Light on Big Money in Politics

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

The American people are making it clear that they're fed up with a system that gives special treatment to special interests while middle-class families suffer. Everywhere they look, it's the same story: a tax system that allows multimillion-dollar earners to pay a lower tax rate than a truck driver or janitor; a banking system that allows credit card companies to ignore local laws and charge sky-high interest rates to consumers; and, thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision,… Continue Reading


Closing the Doughnut Hole Provides Relief to Rhode Island Seniors

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

In this tough economy, with seniors hit particularly hard, I'm thankful that a boost to Social Security income starts in January. I'm also thankful that last year's health care reform law is providing some relief from the cost of prescription drugs, which continues to place a heavy burden on many retired Rhode Islanders. As I travel across the state, I have heard countless stories about Rhode Island seniors affected by the dreaded Medicare Part D "doughnut hole." This coverage gap leaves thousa… Continue Reading


Let’s have a straight deal for R.I. consumers of credit

by Sheldon Whitehouse

With the holiday shopping season upon us, Rhode Islanders deserve to know that they are getting a straight deal from their credit-card company - that they will be able to buy that special gift for a child or loved one without being slammed by unfair interest rates. Unfortunately, right now, too many of the big banks and their credit-card subsidiaries are taking advantage of middle-class families through a loophole that allows them to ignore the laws of consumers' home states and charge sky-high … Continue Reading


A plan to help R.I. businesses add jobs

by Sheldon Whitehouse

With unemployment still near 11 percent in Rhode Island, job creation remains my number one priority in the U.S. Senate. I know too many families in our state are hurting. I've heard from so many Rhode Islanders about how this tough economy has affected them: families struggling to keep their homes, unemployed workers struggling to find that next job, and small businesses who need to hire more workers but just aren't sure they can afford it. I hear you loud and clear, and I am fighting hard i… Continue Reading

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