Patrick Leahy

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Vermont officials react to SOTU

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resident Barack Obama delivered the final State of the Union address of his presidency Tuesday night. The president delivered a strong defense of his presidency and sought to shape his legacy. He urged Americans to reject rancor and discord in America’s politics and instead work collectively to boost the country’s economy and security. Vermont’s two senators and Gov. Peter Shumlin issued the following statements in response to the speech: (more…) 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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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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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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