Peter Welch

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Welch makes DACA case to Trump

MONTPELIER — Vermont Rep. Peter Welch said he believes Republican President Donald Trump wants to ensure there is protected legal status for Dreamers after taking part in a bipartisan meeting with him Wednesday afternoon. Welch, a Democrat, met with Trump, senior staff and about 14 members of Congress Wednesday afternoon in the Cabinet Room inside the White House. The conversation was largely focused on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. The president recently rescinded an executive order issued by former Democratic President Barack Obama that protected from deportation young immigrants, known as Dreamers, who were brought into the country by their parents or guardians as children. Welch said he was able to share a personal moment with Trump after the meeting and shared the story of a University of Vermont medical student who has dedicated his life to cancer research in other of his mother, who died of cancer. Continue Reading →

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Vermont delegation wants legislation to protect DACA recipients

MONTPELIER — Vermont’s congressional delegation and the state’s Republican governor are condemning President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind an Obama-era program that protects young immigrants from deportation, and hoping Congress will act to keep them in the U.S.

The program was created through an executive order signed by former President Barack Obama in 2012. Until Tuesday, Trump went back and forth as a candidate and then as president on whether he would continue the program. The policy change initiated by Trump means that nearly 800,000 young immigrants who have been allowed to remain in the U.S. under the program, including 42 Vermonters, could face deportation after March 5, 2018. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Trump “has revealed he is as heartless as he is uninformed.”

“We live in an unprecedented time when our president seeks to divide us, not to unite us,” Leahy said in a statement. “He rallies his dwindling supporters by exploiting fear and resentment, marginalizing those who are vulnerable and even those who risk their lives for our country and communities. Continue Reading →

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Police weigh Trump order on military equipment

MONTPELIER — Heavy-duty military equipment, including armored vehicles and grenade launchers, may soon be available again to Vermont police departments after the Trump administration revoked an Obama-era ban on their distribution — but some municipal agencies say they aren’t interested. President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday to fully reinstate a program that allows police departments to obtain surplus military gear from the Pentagon. That program was substantially scaled back by President Barack Obama in January 2015 after police in Ferguson, Missouri, responded to civil unrest with military-style gear in 2014. “The recommendations issued pursuant to Executive Order 13688 do not reflect the policy of the executive branch,” Trump’s new order reads. “All executive departments and agencies are directed, as of the date of this order and consistent with Federal law, to cease implementing those recommendations and, if necessary, to take prompt action to rescind any rules, regulations, guidelines, or policies implementing them.”

The Obama administration, after review by a working group, created a list of prohibited equipment that would no longer available to police. Continue Reading →

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Welch pitches prescription bill to Trump

MONTPELIER — Rep. Peter Welch met with President Donald Trump Wednesday to pitch legislation aimed at lower prescription drug prices. The Oval Office meeting inside the White House was attended by Welch, Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Dr. Redonda G. Miller, president of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. The trio met with Trump to pitch a bill that would allow the secretary of the Agency of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare Part D beneficiaries. Current law prohibits the federal government from doing so under a provision known as the “non-interference clause.”

Welch, a Democrat, said the legislation would eliminate the non-interference clause and direct the secretary to negotiate lower prices with drug manufacturers and create a formulary to further leverage the purchasing power of the federal government. “President Trump promised lower drug prices for Americans getting crushed by unjustifiable and exorbitant increases in the price of prescription drugs,” Welch said following the White House meeting. Continue Reading →

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Scott administration concerned with GOP health care bill in Washington

MONTPELIER — Vermont’s top health care official says the Scott administration is working quickly to assess the impact a GOP health care plan in Washington would have on the state if enacted. Agency of Human Services Secretary Al Gobeille said his team is reviewing the Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare. At first glance, Gobeille said, the plan could have significant negative impacts on Vermonters. After years of failed attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare during former Democratic President Barack Obama’s tenure, the GOP now controls both chambers in Congress and the presidency. President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress campaigned on dumping the sweeping health care reform law Democrats enacted early in Obama’s presidency, and now the GOP has put forth a plan to do so. Continue Reading →

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Revised immigration order still draws criticism

MONTPELIER— Republican President Donald Trump’s revised executive order on immigration has failed to win over Vermont’s congressional delegation, while Gov. Phil Scott says he is encouraged that it is more narrowly crafted but remains concerned with other elements of Trump’s immigration policy. The president signed a new executive order at the White House on Monday without fanfare — or the press — that replaces another one signed in late January that was part of a series of orders dealing with immigration and border security. The original executive order prevented citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days and prevented all refugees from entering for a period of 120 days. The original order singled out Syrians for an indefinite ban. That original order was challenged in federal court and stayed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, essentially preventing the administration from carrying out the goals of the order. Continue Reading →

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Vermont delegation pressures Sessions

MONTPELIER — Vermont’s congressional delegation joined a growing chorus of Democratic voices Thursday raising questions about U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session’s meetings with a Russian diplomat during last year’s presidential campaign. Sessions, a former senator from Alabama, told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year during his confirmation hearings that he did not have contact with any Russian government officials. But Sessions has since acknowledged meeting with the Russian ambassador to the United States twice during the presidential campaign when he served as a surrogate and adviser to President Donald Trump. Sessions was already under fire from Democrats over his refusal to recuse himself from a Department of Justice probe into Russian meddling in the presidential election between Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Late Thursday afternoon, after top Republican lawmakers joined the call for recusal, the attorney general complied. Continue Reading →

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Welch to bring Iraqi interpreter to Trump’s address to Congress

MONTPELIER — U.S. Rep. Peter Welch is planning to bring an Iraqi national who served as an interpreter for the U.S. military to Republican President Donald Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday. Trump will deliver his first address to Congress — and the nation — inside the U.S. Capitol Tuesday night as his immigration policies continue to reverberate in Washington and across the country. Welch, a Democrat, has invited Ahmed Alsaeedi, an Iraqi from Baghdad who served as an interpreter for the U.S Army and now lives in Burlington, to be his personal guest at the speech. Many of Welch’s colleagues in Congress are also extending invitations to former interpreters and others who assisted the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan. Welch said he thought to invite Alsaeedi after a recent meeting they had and “my horror at the executive order, including in its original form, that it would have cut off access to safety” for people like Alsaeedi. Continue Reading →

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Delegation vows to fight refugee ban

MONTPELIER — Vermont’s congressional delegation is promising to stand up to a presidential executive order that will halt the arrival of Syrian refugees in Vermont and stop people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days. President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday afternoon indefinitely barring Syrians from entering the country and suspends all immigrants from entering the country for 120 days. Meanwhile, citizens of seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen are forbidden to the enter the U.S. for 90 days. People from those countries, as well as students, tourists and even those with legal permanent status in the U.S., were stopped at airports beginning Friday and prevented from entering the country. Some were sent back overseas. Continue Reading →

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Welch warns state lawmakers about pending health care changes

MONTPELIER — Congressman Peter Welch told Vermont lawmakers Wednesday that he is working to thwart Republicans from completely unraveling the Affordable Care Act, an action he said would be “one of the most reckless fiscal actions.”

Welch, a Democrat and the state’s lone member of the U.S. House, will begin serving under his third president Friday when Republican President-elect Donald Trump is sworn into office. He was first elected in 2006, and served two years under President George W. Bush and eight years under President Barack Obama. During Obama’s tenure, House Republicans voted 65 times to repeal the federal Affordable Care Act, a landmark health care reform bill Obama signed into law. Now, with a Republican Congress and an incoming Republican Congress, Welch warned Wednesday that major changes are coming that could be disruptive to Vermonters and all Americans. “It’s as though the discussion is ideological, that getting rid of this will give people more freedom,” he told lawmakers. Continue Reading →

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