Patrick Leahy

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Commentary: Our Enemy Is ISIS, Not Refugees Fleeing ISIS


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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Leahy reaches rare voting milestone

Sen. Patrick Leahy sits inside the Pro Tem's office in the Capitol in this April 2013 photo. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

WASHINGTON — Vermont’s senior senator reached a milestone Tuesday achieved by only five others in U.S. history. Shortly before noon, Sen. Patrick Leahy cast his 15,000th vote in the U.S. Senate, joining a small collection of long-serving lawmakers, and received tributes from his fellow senators. “His entire career in public service has been history-making,” said Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Senate minority leader, who noted both Leahy’s service in the Senate and as Vermont’s youngest state’s attorney. “Sen. Leahy has proven that the people of Vermont were wise in electing him.”

First elected to the U.S. Senate 41 years ago in 1974, Leahy is currently its longest-serving member. He is also the only Democrat to be elected to the U.S. Senate from Vermont. Continue Reading →

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Vermont congressional delegation concerned about war request

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont’s congressional delegation says it has concerns about President Barack Obama’s request to authorize war against Islamic State militants. Sen. Patrick Leahy says the country has a responsibility to take action but must do so in a way that does not result in an open-ended authorization that becomes legal justification for future action against unknown enemies. Sen. Bernie Sanders says he fears U.S. involvement in “an expanding and never-ending quagmire in that region of the world” and says he supports targeted U.S. military efforts to protect Americans. Congressman Peter Welch says he cannot support the authorization as it is because he says it leaves in place the Bush-era open-ended authorization. Continue Reading →

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Congressional members ask for FairPoint assessment

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Members of Congress from Vermont and New Hampshire have called on the Federal Communications Commission to assess the ability of FairPoint Communications to operate emergency communications networks in both states following outages last year. There was a six-hour outage of Vermont’s 911 system in November and a four-hour outage of Portsmouth, New Hampshire 911 services in December. With about 1,800 FairPoint workers on strike in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont since October, the lawmakers said in their letter Wednesday that FairPoint’s networks and equipment have failed with increasing frequency and customer complaints have soared. A FairPoint spokeswoman says the utility is making progress daily to reduce load trouble caused by the strike and “incredibly bad” weather over the past three months. Vermont Sens. Continue Reading →

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Leahy leads delegation to Cuba

WASHINGTON (AP) — A delegation of congressional Democrats began a three-day visit to Cuba on Saturday to discuss expectations for the normalization of relations between the United States and the island nation. The delegation’s leader, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, said in a statement Saturday that the lawmakers want to explore opportunities for greater cooperation and to encourage Cuban officials to address issues of concern to Americans and their representatives in Congress. Traveling with Leahy were Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and congressmen Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Peter Welch of Vermont. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is planning a trade mission to Cuba to promote the state, spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa said Saturday. Continue Reading →

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Leahy ‘straw purchase’ gun bill advances out of Judiciary Committee

By Edward Donga | For the Rutland Herald and Times Argus

WASHINGTON — Breaking down largely along party lines, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-7 Thursday to approve a bill, sponsored by Chairman Patrick Leahy, that would outlaw the so-called straw purchase of firearms.

The committee’s action paves the way for the legislation to come before the full Senate for debate. A straw purchase involves someone buying a firearm for another individual — such as a convicted felon — who would otherwise be unable to purchase it because he or she cannot pass the required background check. “The practice of straw purchasing firearms is undertaken for one reason: to get a gun into the hands of someone who is prohibited from having one,” said Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont. “We know that many of the guns used in criminal activities are acquired through straw purchases.”
(more…) Continue Reading →

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Leahy declines Appropriations chairmanship is reporting that Patrick Leahy has declined the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee. In a statement issued by email, Leahy said:

“Chairing the Judiciary Committee and maintaining my seniority on the Appropriations Committee will allow me to protect both the Constitution and Vermont.”

The Politico story:
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy is turning down the powerful chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee, a surprise move in a chamber where senior senators are quick to snag the most influential positions on Capitol Hill, aides said Wednesday. Leahy began telling colleagues Wednesday he would remain chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — the panel that oversees the Justice Department, federal courts and hot-button constitutional issues — rather than take over the Appropriations Committee, which holds the purse strings of federal discretionary spending. The Appropriations Committee spot opened up following the death of long-time Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), who had served in the body since 1963. Read more: Continue Reading →

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Leahy to be sworn in as Senate pro tem at 11:30 a.m…

and you can watch the proceedings live on CSPAN2. With the death of 88-year-old Daniel Inouye yesterday, Leahy now ascends to the top of the Senate hierarchy. His appointment as pro tempore puts him third in line for presidency – right behind House Speaker John Boehner – but the title is more symbol than substance. Leahy’s real power will derive from his likely new assignment as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The post is generally the most sought after in the Senate (presidential hopefuls might prefer foreign relations)  and would give Vermont’s senior senator more sway over the way the federal budget is allocated than any other single lawmaker. What would it mean for Vermont? Continue Reading →

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Welch thanks Democrats, says he’ll try to bring Vermont way to D.C.

In the first victory speech of the night here at Democratic headquarters in Burlington, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch said Washington, D.C., should take its lead from Montpelier. “People here understand that the challenges we face are not ideological problems to be battled about, they are practical problems to be solved,” Welch said on an elevated stage here in a conference room at the Hilton Hotel. “A strong country doesn’t argue about its problems, it solves its problems.”

Welch today defeated Republican challenger Mark Donka, who was outgunned when it came to money, manpower, name recognition and just about every other asset one needs to unseat a federal incumbent. In a five-minute speech, Welch didn’t mention his opponent’s name. “Vermont has led the way and my job is to take the way you do it – practical problem solving, listen to people you disagree with, finding common ground to solve our problems and build a strong American middle class that has always been the hallmark and strength of this country,” Welch said. Continue Reading →

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