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Rutland Herald: Welch promises to hold Trump accountable

December 13, 2016
In The News

By Susan Smallheer

SPRINGFIELD — U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., said Monday that he just didn’t know what to expect from a Trump presidency.

“It’s really hard to see it working out,” Welch said Monday, saying there was a “topsy-turvy” situation in the nation’s capital. 

“That’s more than a change,” he said, “it’s upside down.”

Welch, who easily won re-election in November, running on the Democratic and Republican tickets, told the Springfield Rotary Club at the Hartness House Inn that Trump’s recent cabinet appointments were astonishing.

In each case, Welch said, the president-elect appointed politicians or business people whose earlier stated goals were to dismantle the agencies they now head.

And Welch said while he planned to work with his Republican colleagues in the House as he had in the past, he said he hoped Trump and his fellow Republicans remember that he actually lost the popular vote by more than 3 million votes, and display a little humility and restraint.

“Just because you have the power, doesn’t mean you have all the wisdom necessary,” Welch said.”That’s not a huge mandate.”

Welch said he would adopt the goals of former U.S. Sen. Ralph Flanders, R-Vt., a Springfield resident, who was the first U.S. politician to stand up to the bullying tactics of U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy during the Communist witch hunt years. 

“Ralph Flanders was the first to speak out against the excesses of Sen. McCarthy,” he said. 

“This Vermonter began the pushback from Sen. Joe McCarthy,” Welch said. 

Welch said a recent phone-in town meeting, which he held about 10 days ago, attracted 11,000 Vermonters away from their supper to listen to what he had to say about Washington.

On top of that, he said, hundreds of Vermonters had questions about what a Trump presidency would mean. Vermonters are concerned about what appears to be a disregard for “basic courtesy,” he said.

“The reality is, we don’t quite know,” he said, adding that he was trying to figure out “how to be your congressman for the next four years.”

“I’m going to be myself,” Welch said. While there is reason “for all of us to be concerned,” he said Vermonters have long stood for tolerance and protecting people’s rights. 

“And the leadership is going to come from the local level,” he said, praising the joint statement by Gov. Peter Shumlin and Gov.-elect Phil Scott in the days after Trump was elected.