U.S. Congress

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Sanders reverses position on gun liability

Sen. Bernie Sanders

MONTPELIER — Sen. Bernie Sanders plans to co-sponsor legislation in the Senate that would remove blanket immunity for gun makers, a reversal from Sanders’ original vote in Congress that his Democratic presidential primary rival Hillary Clinton has used against him. Sanders, who is running neck-and-neck with Clinton in Iowa and leading her in New Hampshire, voted for a law in 2005 that shields gun manufacturers from liability in gun deaths. Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., introduced legislation this week to repeal that blanket immunity and allow shooting victims to sue. Sanders’ Senate office confirmed Thursday that he will co-sponsor the bill. Continue Reading →

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Commentary: Four Years After Irene, Renewal In Waterbury

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his past August, we marked the four year anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene. Memories of communities besieged by flood waters, houses knocked from their foundations and families forever changed are still fresh for each of us, and for so many other Vermonters. But just as Vermont rebuilt from the historic 1927 floods, Vermonters have pulled together to build back stronger, smarter and better after Irene. This has required new and creative thinking, and significant collaboration between communities, the State of Vermont and the federal government. Nowhere in Vermont is that story better told than in Waterbury. Continue Reading →

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Welch calls for debate on war authorization

Rep. Peter Welch

WASHINGTON — Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., has introduced bipartisan legislation to authorize military force against the so-called Islamic State. The legislation from Welch and co-sponsor Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., would pave the way for the United States to send troops into Syria and Iraq. Welch has long said Congress should debate the issue, rather than leaving it up to the White House alone. “Under the U.S. Constitution, it is the responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force,” Welch said Thursday. “Since August 8, 2014, when military action against ISIL began, Congress has been absent. Continue Reading →

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Food industry pushing to thwart GMO labeling by end of year

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Food companies are mounting an aggressive year-end push to head off mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods. The food industry wants the labeling to be voluntary, and it hopes to get a provision in a massive spending bill that Republicans and Democrats want to wrap up this week. If that becomes law, states could not require companies to disclose whether their products contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. The House passed similar legislation earlier this year, but the Senate has not yet acted. Even so, food companies and farm groups say Congress must step in before Vermont becomes the first state to require GMO labels next summer. Continue Reading →

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Vermont to receive $1.1 billion for highway projects

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WASHINGTON – Vermont will see a significant increase in the money it receives for road and bridge work as part of the first long-term federal highway bill in a decade. Congress has approved a 5-year, $305-billion bill that includes $1.1 billion for Vermont, an increase of $95 million, as well as increases for public transportation and charging stations for electric vehicles. “While this legislation does not have everything I would have hoped for, I am pleased it includes more than $1 billion for Vermont’s roads and bridges in the coming years,” said U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who serves on the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which has primary jurisdiction over federal road and bridge programs.

Vermont will see a 5-percent increase in federal funding during the first year and a 15-percent increase over a five-year period. U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, who has been a long-time advocate of passing a long-term highway bill, said the bill will allow officials at the state level to better plan their infrastructure projects. “This is going to give greater stability and security to our Agency of Transportation, and give them the critical confidence they need to plan their projects,” Welch said. Continue Reading →

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Vermont senators seek Social Security boost

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MONTPELIER — Vermont Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders have joined with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and 17 other Democrats in seeking a cost-of-living increase for seniors on Social Security. The Seniors and Veterans Emergency Benefits Act, introduced by Warren, a first-term Democrat, seeks to boost payments to about 70 million seniors, veterans and people with disabilities with a bonus payment of just under $600. It was determined in October by the Social Security Administration that there will be no increase on Jan. 1 for beneficiaries. Continue Reading →

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Commentary: Our Enemy Is ISIS, Not Refugees Fleeing ISIS

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ast Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to make it almost impossible for people from Syria and Iraq, fleeing the brutality of ISIS and Bashar al-Assad, to find refuge in the United States. It is worth reflecting on what this means for our country. Just a few weeks ago the world came together, stunned and heartbroken over the image of a three-year-old Syrian child’s lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach. His tragic death focused our attention on the desperate plight of so many Syrians who have fled the horror of ISIS and Assad’s army. We called it the humanitarian issue of our day. Continue Reading →

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Commentary: Welch’s Stance Against Corn Ethanol

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hen a Washington-based lobbying outfit started airing television ads in Vermont that attack Rep. Peter Welch because he wants to scale back federal support for corn ethanol, the erstwhile Vermonter in me took offense. It has been a few years since I lived in Vermont, but I was born in Burlington, grew up in Essex Junction, and graduated from Essex High. I now live near Boston, but I’ll probably always consider myself a Vermonter and I think I still have a working sense of what Vermonters value. Related:

Welch responds to attack ad

Vermonters value follow-through, which partly explains Rep. Welch’s skepticism about the Renewable Fuel Standard, a federal law that effectively requires Americans to put billions of gallons of biofuel into our cars each year. The policy is sustained mainly by Iowa’s peculiar role in presidential politics and by the corn ethanol lobby, which has a history of big claims and poor follow-through. Continue Reading →

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Welch responds to attack ad

BARRE — Congressman Peter Welch responding is to a television ad attacking him for his stance on ethanol in gasoline. This weekend, local television stations in Vermont aired an ad from ethanol-advocacy group known as Fuels America, which attacks Welch for being signatory to a letter to Environmental Protection Agency questioning whether the percentage of ethanol in gasoline should be increased. The ad criticizes Welch for “circulating a plan written by oil industry lobbyists” and concludes by asking viewers to “remind Peter Welch to stand up for Vermont values, not oil companies and climate deniers.”

“I understand why they’re doing it,” Welch said of the ad. “The mandate is a moneymaker for the corn ethanol industry.”

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandates an ever-increasing volume of ethanol to enter the nation’s motor vehicle fuel supply. At the time, the Energy Information Administration projected demand for gasoline would continue to rise through 2022. Continue Reading →

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Welch seeks Congressional debate on war in Syria

Rep. Peter Welch

BARRE — Vermont’s lone congressman said it’s time for Congress to debate if the U.S. should go to war in Syria. U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., said Monday that, in light of recent attacks by ISIS that claimed the lives of nearly 200 people in Beirut and Paris, Congress needs to discuss what role the United States should play in response. “Congress has to debate an authorization to use military force,” Welch said. “We’ve been on the sidelines, and I’ve been advocating for a Congressional debate to take place and I think this is going to intensify the urgency of Congress doing that.”

Welch asserted any debate will be belated, given the fact the United States is already engaged in military action in Syria, a failed state seen by most as the home of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS. “The fact is, we have been engaged in what we can call a war,” Welch said. Continue Reading →

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