Some of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation have been the focus on intense protests from local progressives hoping to convince them to resist President Donald Trump’s anti-social justice agenda. But the four Democrats who represent Rhode Island in Congress aren’t shying away from the attention. Indeed they are inviting more.
This Sunday they are holding a joint Town Hall in East Providence in hopes of hearing from their constituents. “Talk directly to your representatives in Congress,” says a public invitation. “Ask questions about the latest news from Washington.”
“Everywhere I go in Rhode Island, I’m hearing from constituents who are concerned and fearful about what the Trump administration will mean for their families,” Whitehouse told RI Future. “I’ve been heartened to see so many people activated and getting organized in recent weeks because it’s going to take all of us working together to keep making progress in the years ahead.”
Whitehouse is known as one of the more liberal members of the Senate, but he’s also received the lion’s share of local attention since the Resist Trump movement coalesced in Rhode Island. Part of that is because environmental activists had previously hoped he would oppose a proposed fossil fuel power plant in Burrillville, but another reason is because the first wave of actions have targeted senators who had a vote on Trump appointments.
Senator Jack Reed has also been visibly visited by angry constituents. His spokesman Chip Unruh said Sunday’s town hall is an opportunity to keep that conversation going.
“This forum is a great way for people to come together and hear directly from their representatives in Congress and ask questions and share ideas about a range of issues,” he said. “Senator Reed is working hard in the Senate to serve as a check on the Trump Administration.”
Now that Trump’s cabinet secretary nominations are winding down, it will be interesting to see how the Rhode Island Resistance transfers its energy toward congressmen David Cicilline and Jim Langevin.
Cicilline, newly minted co-chair of the the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, has already taken a lead role in resisting Trump in Congress. He’s sponsored a litany of legislation aimed at curbing the Trump agenda and spoken out against the new president on several occasions.
“It’s critical that all of us keep up this energy in the months and weeks ahead, and continue fighting against President Trump’s anti-worker, pro-Wall Street agenda,” Cicilline said. “And I’m excited that progressives today are getting involved and organizing at a level unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to meet with constituents this Sunday, hear their ideas, and listen to their concerns about the direction of our country.”
Langevin, both more conservative and understated than Cicilline, is likely to resist Trump less often. Never-the-less, he welcomes the opportunity this weekend to talk to constituents about it.
“Sunday’s event should be a great opportunity for the delegation to connect with constituents, and I really welcome the input,” he said. “Being transparent and accessible is a priority for me, and I’m always looking for new ways to communicate with and solicit feedback from constituents.”
He said this is the most engaged in politics he has seen Rhode Island during his 17 year congressional career.
“Never before during my time in public service have I seen Rhode Islanders as active and engaged as they are right now, and that’s an exciting thing to witness,” Langevin told RI Future. “It’s inspiring that people are so motivated to have their voices heard and to make an impact on public policy.”
UPDATE: Progressive activists, in this Facebook event, are imploring people to attend the town hall.
This Sunday, our whole federal delegation is holding a joint town hall – and it’s never been more important that we turn up and let them know it’s time to RESIST.
Our voices are working. Since sending a message at Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s town hall, he has stepped up and engaged as a leader of the resistance. It’s time for Senator Jack Reed to do the same.
The Supreme Court – and a lifetime of judicial control – hang in the balance. Come out this Sunday to tell our Senators we have a simple message for them to relay in Washington: Democrats should filibuster Trump’s pick–since Republicans wouldn’t even allow a hearing on Obama’s.
Join us outside the school at 1:00 PM as we demand our Senators stand up and fight back!