Patrick Leahy

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Leahy chooses leadership role in Appropriations

Sen. Patrick Leahy

MONTPELIER — U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy is giving up his ranking member status on the Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of a leadership role on the Senate Appropriations Committee. Leahy, currently the Senate’s longest-serving member, announced his decision to his staff Wednesday morning, according to spokesman David Carle. “The results of this election have reshaped the policymaking landscape in Washington and show the need for checks and balances, now that one party controls the White House as well as both houses of Congress,” Leahy said in a statement. “There are many challenges ahead. Against this new backdrop, I have decided that I will best be able to represent Vermonters’ voices, and reflect Vermont values and ideals, as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee.”

Leahy turned down an opportunity in 2012 to become chairmen of the Appropriations Committee after the death of Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye, but chose to remain at the helm of Judiciary. Continue Reading →

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Leahy, Welch cruising to victory

Sen. Patrick Leahy

BURLINGTON — Two of the three members of Vermont’s congressional delegation who were seeking re-election cruised to victory Tuesday and will return to Washington, D.C., in January. Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, 76, the longest-serving member of the Senate, handily defeated Republican challenger Scott Milne. The Associated Press announced Leahy as the projected winner at 6:59 p.m., one minute before the polls closed in Vermont. With just 34 of 276 voting districts reporting results to the AP, Leahy led Milne by a 57 percent to 38 percent margin. Leahy’s win gives him an eighth term in the Senate, making him just the fifth person in U.S. history to be elected to eight, six-year terms.

“I’m here because you’ve honored me with six more years in the Senate,” Leahy told supporters at the Burlington Hilton where the Vermont Democratic Party held its election night event. Continue Reading →

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Sanders rallies for Minter, Democrats

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally for gubernatorial nominee Sue Minter and other Democrats in Montpelier. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — Sen. Bernie Sanders brought his political revolution home to Vermont Friday night, rallying Vermont Democrats in support of the party’s statewide candidates and boosting the campaign of gubernatorial nominee Sue Minter who is locked in a tie race. Sanders, whose presidential campaign soared high enough to provide Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton with a serious challenge in the primary, played the roll of emcee, introducing each statewide candidate at the podium. He also shared an abridged version of the stump speech he bellowed out across the country during his presidential campaign. “Nationally, democracy is, in fact, being threatened by Citizen’s United and by billionaires all over this country who intend to do everything they can to buy elections. In Vermont, we are saying you are not going to buy this election. Continue Reading →

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Biden pushes progress on cancer research at UVM

Vice President Joe Biden poses for a selfie with Christina Lauterbach of Burlington as he greets diners at the Penny Cluse Cafe in Burlington before participating in a Cancer Moonshot Roundtable at the University of Vermont on Friday, October 21, 2016. (Pool photo by Glenn Russell/The Burlington Free Press)

BURLINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden capped off an overnight visit to the Green Mountain State Friday with a discussion of the Cancer Moonshot task force he is heading at the request of the president. Biden’s 45-minute remarks at the University of Vermont Friday morning highlighted the Cancer Moonshot initiative President Barack Obama called for in his January State of the Union Address. He tapped Biden, whose own son Beau died of brain cancer last year, to head the effort aimed at achieving 10 years of progress on cancer research in the next five years. The university hosts the University of Vermont Cancer Center, which conducts research and more than 300 clinical trials each year in addition to treating cancer patients from around the state. Biden is visiting several similar centers to highlight the work of the task force. Continue Reading →

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VPR poll shows tied gubernatorial race

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MONTPELIER — Republican Phil Scott and Democrat Sue Minter are locked in a tie race for governor with three weeks to go and 14 percent of voters undecided, according to a Vermont Public Radio poll conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute released Wednesday. According to the poll results, Scott, the incumbent lieutenant governor, has a 1 percentage point lead over Sue Minter, a former secretary of the Agency of Transportation — 39 percent to 38 percent. Liberty Union candidate Bill Lee, a former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and Montreal Expos, received 2 percent support. But 14 percent of the likely voters polled said they have yet to make up their mind. The poll of 650 likely voters has a 3.8 percent margin of error and includes live interviews from a mix of cell and land line phones. Continue Reading →

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Sanders finally backs Minter, statewide Dems

Former Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., smiles before asking that Hillary Clinton become the unanimous choice for President of the United States with the Vermont delegation during the second day session of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Tuesday, July 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

MONTPELIER — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has finally proffered his coveted endorsement to Democratic gubernatorial nominee Sue Minter and the entire slate of statewide Democratic candidates. Sanders, easily the most popular politician in the state, announced his endorsements in a news release Thursday afternoon without any fanfare. They include U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, his colleagues in Congress. For state offices, Sanders is backing Treasurer Beth Pearce, Auditor Doug Hoffer, Secretary of State Jim Condos and T.J. Donovan for attorney general. Chittenden County Sen. David Zuckerman, the Democratic and Progressive nominee for lieutenant governor, was previously endorsed by Sanders. Continue Reading →

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Milne ad: Leahy has a sickness

Scott Milne (VPR photo)

MONTPELIER — Republican Scott Milne has released his first video ad against longtime U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, but the ad will only run online and not on television. Milne, the Republican who nearly toppled Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin in the 2014 gubernatorial race, has struggled to gain traction against Leahy, who is seeking his eighth term in Washington. Milne’s campaign has largely focused his campaign on attacking Leahy for being a “career politician.” Until this week he did not even have an issues section on his campaign website. In the 30-second video ad, Milne continues his assault on Leahy’s longevity in Washington. “Career Politician Patrick Leahy has caught the bug. Continue Reading →

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Minter, Leahy launch general election ads

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Editor’s note: This story was updated at 1:15 p.m.

MONTPELIER — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter is on the airwaves with her first general election television ad, while Democratic U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy has launched his first two television ads of the Senate campaign. Minter, a former secretary of the Agency of Transportation, launched an ad Tuesday that looks to highlight her management skills. It focuses on her work helping the state recover from Tropical Storm Irene and and serving on President Barack Obama’s Climate Preparedness and Resilience Task Force. A narrator lays out what Minter’s goals as governor will be. “As Governor, Sue Minter will make sure our children can stay and succeed here in Vermont with affordable education and livable wage jobs, a governor who will put Vermont families first,” the narrator says. Continue Reading →

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Senators reach bipartisan deal on national GMO labeling law

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MONTPELIER — A bipartisan deal has been reached by two key members of the U.S. Senate’s Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee on a national GMO labeling law that would nullify Vermont’s labeling law set to take effect on July 1. The compromise bill was announced by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., the Agriculture Committee’s ranking member, and its chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas. The legislation would create the first mandatory, nationwide label for food products containing genetically modified organisms that are commonly referred to as GMOs. “This bipartisan agreement is an important path forward that represents a true compromise. Since time is of the essence, we urge our colleagues to move swiftly to support this bill,” the two lawmakers said in a joint statement. Continue Reading →

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Now Vermont, Too, Shows Why National EB-5 Reforms Are Needed

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ears ago when I began working to reform the national EB-5 program, the problems we saw seemed far removed from the many promising EB-5 development projects in Vermont. It is heartbreaking, and it is maddening, to see such problems here at home. It is now painfully clear to all Vermonters that the EB-5 Regional Center program is flawed. The program once promised to transform the Northeast Kingdom and other underserved communities through millions of dollars of investment at no cost to taxpayers. Yet it has become mired in fraud and abuse across the country, and unfortunately such allegations have now reached our state. Continue Reading →

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