Since talking office three months ago, Congressman Seth Magaziner said he has submitted 400 requests, an average of about seven a day, for federal funding for Rhode Island projects and …
Since talking office three months ago, Congressman Seth Magaziner said he has submitted 400 requests, an average of about seven a day, for federal funding for Rhode Island projects and programs.
The freshman Representative from the Second Congressional District told the Warwick Rotary Club Thursday that he aims to continue the tradition of returning more federal dollars to the state than state taxpayers give to Washington. On average, he said, for every dollar that goes to pay federal taxes the state gets back $1.15. In large part, he attributed the return to the state’s delegation that coordinates funding requests, unlike some other states where delegations may be politically divided and fighting just for their districts.
Magaziner focused on his efforts to secure $200 million for career and technical education, citing a need to build the state’s workforce. In the field of education, he is making efforts to double the amount of Pell grants for students pursing higher education.
In a follow-up inquiry about grant requests, in an email Monday, Magaziner’s office wouldn’t release a full list of grant applications at this time, but cited $108 million for Coastal Zone Management Grants from NOAA; $130 million for Lyme and other tick-borne disease research and a request for maximum funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program .
“Our office was thrilled to work with various cities, towns, and non-profit organizations to apply for Community Project Funding in this year’s appropriations process. In coordination with the rest of the Congressional Delegation, we are hopeful that RI will get the federal funding that our state deserves. We also worked closely with dozens of advocacy organizations and non-profit groups to submit funding requests for the priorities that matter most to working Rhode Islanders. I encourage all RI organizations that are interested in receiving federal funding to contact my office in order to stay updated on the latest funding opportunities.”
As for initiatives Magaziner led, his office responded, “Yes, Rep. Magaziner led the efforts to double the Pell grant and make higher education more affordable, protect Southern New England’s coastal economy and environment, support paralyzed Americans, and invest in Career and Technical education national programs.
Magaziner told the Rotary Club he wants his office to provide “the best constituent services” providing answers and assistance to Social Security, military benefits, Medicare and pensions “to make sure people get what they are entitled to.” As an example of his staff’s work, he said a constituent called at 6 a.m. that morning when he discovered his passport had expired and he was scheduled on a flight that night. Magazine didn’t promise such prompt results every time, but he said the man got his passport.
Contrary to news reports of the divisive portrayal of Congress along party lines, Magaziner said he has found a lot of talk between members. He has found that to be the case in both the Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on Homeland Security where he has been assigned.
“I hope there are areas we can find bipartisanship,” he said.
Magazieer opened his remarks saying he enjoys talking to groups like the Rotary Club because the members are civic minded and they are engaged in their community. He added he was not only present to talk about Washington and servicing in Congress, but to listen. He urged people to express what they see as issues and what they would like to happen.
As it turned out, however, Magaziner broke off his comments as he realized the meeting would shortly come to an end.
There was still time for some question.
“There’s a lot of talk about the debt ceiling,” Magaziner said. He said the country is basically faced with two paths: raising the debt ceiling which is now $31.4 trillion or defaulting on payments owed.
“We can’t let political gamesmanship break that (payments),” he said. If we fail to increase the debt limit, he said the country’s rising interest rates, worldwide loss of confidence in the dollar and an enhancement of Russian and Chinese influence globally would result. Magaziner said the national debt ceiling is unique to this country and it would make sense to do away with it, but this is the system we have and must work with.
As to how debate over the debt ceiling plays out, he said the money has to be there for Social Security and Medicare. “That has to be taken off the table,” he said.
The former state treasurer also talked about banks, warning that financial matters could put people to sleep.
There weren’t any yawns as he called for a thorough investigation into the collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank. He said some major SVB investors sold their stock days before it was forced to shutdown. He questioned why regulators allowed certain high risk practices and said mechanisms designed to detect and address bank runs didn’t act fast enough and need to be updated.
Looking at the banking system, Magaziner favors the country’s mix of banks.
“We want to have banks of all sizes,” he said. He said smaller banks are close to their communities and it would be a mistake to have only big banks.
Magaziner also commented on immigration in response to questions. He feels a stepped up review of applications for asylum would go a long way to improve the system. He also said the country needs to crack down on the importation of fentanyl with improved detection systems. He said Americans who can more easily cross the border are largely responsible for bringing the drug into this country.