|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Vermont's at-large district
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2007
|Preceded by||Bernie Sanders|
|73rd and 78th President pro tempore of the Vermont Senate|
January 8, 2003 – January 3, 2007
|Preceded by||Peter Shumlin|
|Succeeded by||Peter Shumlin|
January 9, 1985 – January 4, 1989
|Preceded by||Robert A. Bloomer|
|Succeeded by||Doug Racine|
|Minority Leader of the Vermont Senate|
January 5, 1983 – January 8, 1985
|Preceded by||Robert V. Daniels|
|Succeeded by||Allen D. Avery|
|Member of the Vermont Senate|
from the Windsor district
December 13, 2001 – January 3, 2007
|Preceded by||Cheryl Rivers|
|Succeeded by||Alice Nitka|
January 7, 1981 – January 4, 1989
Serving with Chester Scott, John Howland, Edgar May, William Hunter
|Preceded by||Herbert Ogden|
|Succeeded by||Richard McCormack|
Peter Francis Welch
May 2, 1947
Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.
(m. 1986; died 2004)
|Education||College of the Holy Cross (BA)|
University of California, Berkeley (JD)
Peter Francis Welch (born May 2, 1947) is an American lawyer and politician who has served as the U.S. representative for Vermont's at-large congressional district since 2007. He is a member of the Democratic Party and has been a major figure in Vermont politics for over three decades.
Welch served in the Vermont Senate from 1981 to 1989, including terms as minority leader. He was the Senate's president pro tempore from 1985 to 1989, the first Democrat to hold the position. In 1988, he gave up his seat to run for the United States House of Representatives and lost the Democratic primary to Paul N. Poirier. He was the Democratic nominee for governor of Vermont in 1990, losing the general election to Republican Richard A. Snelling.
Welch continued to practice law and returned to politics in 2001, when he was appointed to fill a vacancy in the Vermont Senate. He was re-elected in 2002 and 2004 and served as Senate president from 2003 to 2007. In 2006, Welch was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, succeeding Bernie Sanders, who was elected to the United States Senate. In November 2021, Welch announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the 2022 United States Senate election in Vermont to succeed retiring Senator Patrick Leahy. On August 9, 2022, he won the Democratic primary. Welch will face Republican nominee Gerald Malloy in the November general election.
Early life, education, and career
Welch was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1947, where he attended local Catholic schools (Holy Name Grammar School and Cathedral High School). He graduated magna cum laude from College of the Holy Cross in 1969 and in 1973 earned a J.D. degree from Boalt Hall, the law school of the University of California, Berkeley.
Welch "worked with low-income people on Chicago's West Side in the late 60s" as a community organizer. He worked for an organization that was affiliated with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and its activities included attendance at an SCLC national convention in Atlanta. Participants there strategized and heard remarks from Ralph Abernathy, Hosea Williams, and Martin Luther King Jr.
After graduating from law school, Welch moved to Vermont in 1973. He served as a law clerk for Judge Henry Black of the Vermont Superior Court. He worked for several years as a public defender for low-income clients in Windsor County and Orange County. Welch was a partner for 30 years in the personal injury law firm Welch, Graham & Manby in White River Junction, Vermont.
In 1980, Welch was elected to the Vermont Senate from Windsor County. In his second term, Welch was chosen as the Minority Leader, and he became president pro tempore after Democrats gained control of the Senate. Welch was the first Democrat to serve as Vermont's senate president, since Vermont was a bastion for the Whigs and then the Republicans for more than 100 years beginning in the 1830s.
In 1988, Welch left the Vermont Senate to make an unsuccessful run for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Welch did not run for another office for more than a decade; in 2001, Governor Howard Dean appointed him to fill a vacant Vermont Senate seat in Windsor County. He was elected to the seat in 2002 and reelected in 2004, again serving as president pro tempore.
U.S. House of Representatives
When Vermont's U.S. Representative, Bernie Sanders, ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006, Welch chose to run for Sanders's seat. He defeated Republican Martha Rainville in the general election, 53% to 45%, in a race where both candidates pledged to be entirely positive. Welch was the first Democrat to represent Vermont in the House since 1961, and only the second since 1853 (though Sanders, an independent, caucused with the Democrats).
Welch was re-elected in 2008 with no major-party opposition, becoming the first Democrat to be reelected to the House from Vermont since 1848. He was in the unusual position of being both the Democratic and Republican nominee for the seat, due to Republican voters writing his name in on the blank primary ballot.
Welch was reelected with 64% of the vote against Republican nominee Paul Beaudry, Liberty Union nominee Jane Newton, Working Families nominee Sheila Coniff, and independent candidate Gus Jaccaci.
Welch defeated Republican nominee Mark Donka, Liberty Union candidate Jane Newton, and Independent candidates James "Sam" Desrochers and Andre LaFramboise with 72% of the vote.
Welch was reelected to a fifth term with 64.4% of the vote, defeating Republican Mark Donka, Matthew Andrews of the Liberty Union Party and Independents Cris Ericson, Randall Meyer and Jerry Trudell.
Welch ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, and also got more votes in the Republican primary than any other candidate, with 4.51% via write-ins. He defeated Liberty Union candidate Erica Clawson in the general election with 90% of the vote to Clawson's 10%.
Welch was reelected to a seventh term with 69.2% of the vote, defeating Republican nominee Anya Tyino, Cris Ericson of the Marijuana Party, and Laura Potter of the Liberty Union Party.
Welch was reelected to an eighth term with 67.3% of the vote, defeating Republican nominee Miriam Berry and Independent candidate Peter Becker.
One area where Welch was at odds with vocal constituents was the matter of the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Welch said that ending the Iraq War was a top priority, and impeachment would distract Congress from addressing that outcome. Advocates of impeachment protested at Welch's Vermont offices.
Welch worked with former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on a bill to increase funding at the National Institutes of Health for pediatric research and with Representative Paul Ryan to reverse proposed regulations that would have banned the use of wooden shelves for ageing cheese wheels. He touts his bipartisanship and describes himself as "very independent". He bucked his party leadership by voting against arming and training Syrian rebels and opposes "boots on the ground" in dealing with ISIL. He believes climate change is a "glaring problem", opposed travel bans in response to the Ebola epidemic and supports immigration reform that addresses border concerns but does not close them.
In his first term, Welch attracted attention for his partnership with Senator Charles Grassley in challenging colleges and universities with substantial endowments to spend more of those funds on operating expenses (including, perhaps, lower tuition).
During the first impeachment of Donald Trump, Welch invited Trump to testify before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in response to Jim Jordan's criticism of the impeachment. Welch spoke directly after Jordan, saying, "I say to my colleague, I'd be glad to have the person who started it all come in and testify", adding, "President Trump is welcome to take a seat right there." On December 18, 2019, Welch voted for both articles of impeachment against Trump.
In the 112th Congress, Welch was a member of the Committee on Agriculture and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Beginning with the 112th Congress, he also served as a Chief Deputy Whip, one of several who are part of Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer's organization for managing legislation and votes on the House floor.
Since the 113th Congress, Welch has been a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
- Committee on Energy and Commerce
- Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
- Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
- Climate Solutions Caucus
- Congressional Arts Caucus
- Congressional Biomass Caucus (co-chair)
- Congressional Dairy Farmers Caucus (co-chair and founder)
- Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus
- Congressional Progressive Caucus
- Medicare for All Caucus
- Safe Climate Caucus
2022 U.S. Senate election
Welch is married to Margaret Cheney, a former member of the Vermont House of Representatives who was appointed to the Vermont Public Service Board in 2013. His first wife, Joan Smith, died of cancer in 2004. Welch has five stepchildren from his first marriage and three from his second.
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- Marcel, Joyce (November 26, 2017). "A gentleman in every sense of the word: Mr Welch goes to Washington". Vermont Biz.com. South Burlington, VT.
- New York Times, The 1990 Elections: State By State; Northeast, November 7, 1990
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- "Write-ins give Welch GOP nomination". The Barre Montpelier Times Agnus. September 18, 2008. Archived from the original on November 3, 2012.
- House Election Results: G.O.P. Keeps Control Sep 13, 2017 nytimes.com
- Welch wins 7th term as US House Representative for Vt Nov 6, 2018
- Peter Welch Wins 8th Term in U.S. House Nov 3, 2020
- "Protestors camp out in Welch's congressional office". Vermontguardian.com. March 20, 2007. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
- "Republican Donka tries again to unseat Welch". The Burlington Free Press. October 26, 2014. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
- "Yale Daily News - Endowment spending may be mandated". Archived from the original on October 9, 2008.
- Burbank, April (February 19, 2016). "Rep. Peter Welch throws support behind Bernie Sanders". BurlingtonFreePress.com. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
- Krieg, Gregory (February 19, 2019). "Sanders taps new campaign manager, gets endorsements from top Vermont lawmakers". CNN. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
- "'You just got Welch'd': Vermont Rep's comments during Trump impeachment hearing make waves". www.msn.com. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
- Panetta, Grace. "WHIP COUNT: Here's which members of the House voted for and against impeaching Trump". Business Insider.
- "Congressman Peter Welch: Committees and Caucuses". U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
- "90 Current Climate Solutions Caucus Members". Citizen´s Climate Lobby. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
- "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
- "Committees and Caucuses". Congressman Peter Welch. December 13, 2012.
- "Members". Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
- "Caucus Members". Congressional Progressive Caucus. Archived from the original on October 22, 2017. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
- "Caucus Membrs". US House of Representatives. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
- "Members". Safe Climate Caucus - Rep. Alan Lowenthal.
- "Vermont Primaries". CNN. Retrieved May 24, 2022.
- Office of the Governor of Vermont, Press Release: Gov. Shumlin appoints Rep. Margaret Cheney to Public Service Board Archived June 10, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, September 16, 2013
- Congressman Peter Welch official U.S. House website
- Peter Welch for Vermont campaign website
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Peter Welch at Curlie