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Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) is offering a library amendment to the immigration bill that the Senate is considering this week. The amendment, #1223, would make public libraries eligible for funding for English language instruction and civics education, and would also add Susan Hildreth, the director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to the Task Force on New Americans. The American Library Association (ALA) is asking its members to call their Senators in support of Reed’s amendment.

According to the Congressional Record, Reed said that the amendment “recognizes the longstanding role that libraries have played in helping new Americans learn English, American civics, and integrate into our local communities. It ensures that they continue to have a voice in these critical efforts… This amendment expands on the recent partnership between U.S.  Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and IMLS.” He also cited IMLS statistics which say that more than 55 percent of new Americans use a public library at least once a week.

The bill itself, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, seeks to strike a balance between creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and addressing concerns about border protection. It does so in part by tying the authority to confer new, more protected statuses on undocumented immigrants to the creation and implementation of stringent border controls. These include registered provisional immigrant (RPI) status, and the subsequent conversion of such registered provisional immigrants to lawful permanent resident status.

Among the criteria for RPI status are English language skills, which makes Reed’s amendment particularly relevant. - Library Journal, 6/19/13

And while we're on the subject of libraries:

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) returned to his hometown of Cranston on Friday to announce the introduction of the Workforce Investments through Local Libraries act (WILL). Speaking to a group of digital literacy trainers at Cranston’s Central Library, Reed introduced the bi-partisan legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), supportive of the integration of public libraries into state and local workforce investment strategies.

“I want to applaud all of the ladies and gentlemen who are here for training. You are the people who are going to teach people how to access this digital world,” said Reed to a group of men and women gathered for a digital literacy trainer program. “You are indispensable in making sure people have a fighting chance in a very complicated and very technical world.”

Upon passage, the WILL Act will recognize public libraries as “One-Stop” partners, authorizing new demonstration and pilot projects to establish employment resources in public libraries. One-Stop career centers, operated under DLT, provide resources for job seekers.

“We in Rhode Island have become the leader in broadband Internet access,” said Reed. “We rank first in the nation for broadband speed and we rank third for broadband coverage. We have moved forward into this new technological era.”

Reed went on to explain the backbone of the program, the OSHEAN Inc.’s Beacon 2.0 network, funded through a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The project, using more than $21 million in federal funds in a grant to the Ocean State Higher Education Economic Development Administrative Network, links institutions across Rhode Island and Bristol County, Mass., including libraries, through a fiber-optic cable network and increases the state’s ability to provide high speed Internet access to Rhode Island residents. Included in the network are schools, libraries, universities, community colleges, hospitals and government agencies.

Under the award, the grant will improve access to institutions (potentially 383 K-12 schools and 72 libraries) through the Rhode Island Network for Educational Technology.

According to the grants award summary, the project will create an estimated 210 direct jobs over the first three years, and is expected to provide the infrastructure for many more knowledge economy jobs in the future.

“Libraries, to me, are one of the most personable places where we can bring technology to the people,” said Reed. “For people who can’t afford to buy services, to buy hardware, the library is here and it is evolving. It has always been the core of our community.”

The focal point of the meeting was the need for computer and technological skills in today’s workforce.

“You can’t apply for a job today unless you can get on a computer,” said Reed. “You have to be on a computer and you need to be constantly on a computer.” - Cranston Herald, 6/19/13

Haven't written about Reed in a while so let me fill you in on what else's he been up to.  He has a pretty busy schedule coming up.  Senate Democrats and Republicans are working on a deal to stop student loan interest rates from going up:

A draft of the proposal was obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.

Congress is grappling with student loans for the second straight year, with each party pointing fingers at the other about who would shoulder the blame if rates double. The House passed legislation that also ties rates to the markets but the Senate earlier this month voted down two competing proposals.

The latest Senate compromise, developed during conversations among Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and independent Sen. Angus King of Maine, was being passed among offices. None of them publicly committed to the plan until they heard back from the Congressional Budget Office about how much the proposal would cost.

A day earlier, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters negotiations were afoot and predicted a deal could be reached. He mentioned talking with Manchin and King, as well as Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Jack Reed of Rhode Island.

"The last 24 hours, I've spent hours working with interested senators," Reid said Tuesday.

"We're not there yet," he added.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan and White House economic adviser Gene Sperling would have lunch with senators on Thursday, Reid said. - AP, 6/19/13

And as a senior member of the Senate Banking Committee, he has some big confirmation hearings coming up very soon:

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The Senate Banking Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on June 27 for President Barack Obama's two nominees to serve on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the committee announced on Thursday.

Kara Stein, a Democrat, and Michael Piwowar, a Republican, would replace SEC commissioners Elisse Walter and Troy Paredes, respectively.

Stein is currently an aide to Senator Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat and a senior member of the banking panel. Piwowar is chief economist for the committee, working under the panel's ranking Republican, Mike Crapo, of Idaho.

Stein and Piwowar are expected to have fairly speedy confirmations by the U.S. Senate, and neither is considered controversial.

They would join the SEC at a critical time. The agency is under the leadership of a new chair, former federal prosecutor Mary Jo White. - Reuters, 6/20/13

So Reed's been pretty busy.  But if you have any questions, please contact his office:

(202) 224-4642

Originally posted to pdc on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 06:28 PM PDT.

Also republished by Youth Kos 2.0, LatinoKos, and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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