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Peter Welch
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Vermont's at-large district
Assumed office
January 3, 2007
Preceded byBernie Sanders
73rd and 78th President pro tempore of the Vermont Senate
In office
January 8, 2003 – January 3, 2007
Preceded byPeter Shumlin
Succeeded byPeter Shumlin
In office
January 9, 1985 – January 4, 1989
Preceded byRobert A. Bloomer
Succeeded byDoug Racine
Minority Leader of the Vermont Senate
In office
January 5, 1983 – January 8, 1985
Preceded byRobert Daniels
Succeeded byKermit Smith
Member of the Vermont Senate
from the Windsor district
In office
December 13, 2001 – January 3, 2007
Serving with John Campbell, Richard McCormack
Preceded byCheryl Rivers
Succeeded byAlice Nitka
In office
January 7, 1981 – January 4, 1989
Serving with Chester Scott, John Howland, Edgar May, William Hunter
Preceded byHerbert Ogden
Succeeded byRichard McCormack
Personal details
Peter Francis Welch

(1947-05-02) May 2, 1947 (age 74)
Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Joan Smith
(m. 1986; died 2004)
(m. 2009)
EducationCollege of the Holy Cross (BA)
University of California, Berkeley (JD)
WebsiteHouse website

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 and narrowly lost 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.[1][2]

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.[3]

Welch was a partner for 30 years in the personal injury law firm Welch, Graham & Manby in White River Junction, Vermont.[3] His legal career is the basis for the legal adventures of one of the lead characters in Jacob M. Appel's satiric novel The Man Who Wouldn't Stand Up.[4]

Vermont government

In 1980, Welch was elected to the Vermont Senate as a representative from Windsor County. In his second term, Welch was chosen as the Minority Leader, and became president pro tempore after Democrats gained control of the Senate.[3] 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.[5]

In 1988, Welch left the Vermont Senate to make an unsuccessful run for the Democratic nomination for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives to represent Vermont's at-large congressional district.

In 1990, Welch won the Democratic nomination for governor of Vermont but lost the general election to Republican Richard Snelling.[3]

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.[3]

U.S. House of Representatives



See also: 2006 United States House of Representatives election in Vermont

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.[6] Welch was the first Democrat to represent Vermont in the House since 1961, and only the second since 1853 (though Sanders caucused with the Democrats).


See also: 2008 United States House of Representatives election in Vermont

Welch during the 113th Congress
Welch during the 113th Congress

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.[7]


See also: 2010 United States House of Representatives election in Vermont

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.[citation needed]


See also: 2012 United States House of Representatives election in Vermont

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.[citation needed]


See also: 2014 United States House of Representatives election in Vermont

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.[citation needed]


See also: 2016 United States House of Representatives election in Vermont

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%.[8]


See also: 2018 United States House of Representatives election in Vermont

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.[9]


See also: 2020 United States House of Representatives election in Vermont

Welch was reelected to an eighth term with 67.3% of the vote, defeating Republican nominee Miriam Berry and Independent candidate Peter Becker.[10]


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", opposes travel bans in response to the Ebola epidemic and supports immigration reform that addresses border concerns but does not close them.[11] 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."[12]

A September 2007 search of the Library of Congress Thomas congressional bill search engine Archived January 26, 2006, at WebCite revealed Welch's sponsorship of amendments on the following topics (among others):

In 2010 and 2011, Welch introduced proposals to adopt as US government policy a position that contracts or grants should not be awarded to individuals or companies who violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977.[13][14]

Key votes

Welch voted no on H.R. 3997, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008: "The economic crisis we face is real. However, I voted against the bailout because it is not paid for and because I do not believe it will work." He later voted in favor of a new version of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act numbered H.R. 1424.

According to On The Issues,[15] Welch voted in favor of the following issues:

Committee assignments

In the 110th Congress, Welch was a member of the Committee on Rules and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

In the 111th Congress, Welch served on the Committee on Energy and Commerce, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

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.

Caucus memberships

Political positions

As of September 2007, Welch's congressional website depicted his stand on issues and legislation as follows:

One website that tracks congressional votes,, reported in September 2007 that Welch believes that an abortion decision should be between a woman and her doctor. His 2006 campaign website claimed that he had a "100 percent National [Rifle] Association record".

In his first term, Welch attracted attention for his partnership with Senator Charles Grassley in challenging colleges and universities with enormous endowments to spend more of those funds on operating expenses (including, perhaps, lower tuition).[24]

Bush administration

One area where Welch was at odds with vocal constituents was the matter of the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Welch expressed the opinion that ending the Iraq War was a top priority, and impeachment would distract Congress from addressing that outcome. Advocates of impeachment protested in Welch's Vermont offices.[25]

The Vermont Guardian[26] quoted Welch as saying, "if we are going to end the war we are going to have to move beyond the 218 votes", meaning the 216 Democrats and two Republicans who voted for a war funding bill that included a withdrawal timetable. "There is united Democratic opposition to the war and only two Republicans voted for accountability, no blank check, and a timetable. There are some folks who believe impeachment is a way to end the war, but my major reservation is that impeachment is one approach guaranteed to solidify Republican opposition."

The Vermont Guardian[26] quoted Welch as saying, "my hat is off to the citizen activists in Vermont for bringing their case to the legislature; they are representative of the proud tradition we have in Vermont to speaking out. [...] People are expressing broad outrage about this President's handling of the war, his treatment of civil liberties, and the use of bogus intelligence, and there is a lot of common ground here on holding the President and Vice President accountable. The major question is the best way to make that happen. My fundamental concern is ending this war."

Domestic issues

Welch supports a progressive Democratic position on most issues, as evidenced by his high ratings from progressive interest groups and low ratings from conservative ones.[27] Welch endorsed Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008.

On abortion, Welch was given a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America and a rating of 0 from the National Right to Life Committee.[27] He voted against the November 7, 2009 amendment to Obama's health care bill that prohibited federally funded abortions.[28] On the issue of gay rights, PFLAG and the Human Rights campaign rated Welch as 100% supportive of their position.[27] Welch has sustained a liberal stance on abortion and gay rights despite his identification as a Roman Catholic.[29]

Several organizations such as Americans for Fair Taxation and the National Taxpayers Union gave Welch 0% or F ratings.[30] Welch also voted against the 2009-10 Defense Spending Appropriations bill.[28]

Despite his progressive positions on social issues and low ratings from traditionally conservative interest groups, Welch has adopted a conservative position on gun rights. He supported a bill to allow loaded guns in National Parks as well as a bill to repeal part of the DC firearms ban.[28] He received an A from the National Rifle Association, while the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gave him a 0% rating.[27]

Welch stresses the importance of veterans' support on his website and in his voting record. In July 2009, he supported legislation to help disabled veterans.[31] He also frequently introduces and supports legislation to help Vermont veterans, such as the April 2009 resolution to honor Captain Richard Phillips, a merchant mariner from Underhill, Vermont who was kidnapped by Somali pirates but returned safely, as well as the Navy sailors involved in the rescue.[32] Welch also received an "A" rating from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America organization.[27]

Welch's website also states he believes in affordable access to quality health care as a fundamental right. Three key principles he strives for in health care are that everyone should be covered, everyone should contribute based upon their ability, and coverage should be independent of employers.[33]

According to Welch's May 5, 2010 entry on the Hill's Congress Blog,[34] he believes in the importance in energy efficiency. Welch said he supports putting effort into creating energy efficiency and alternative energy sources, which will create more jobs for those in need and will also greatly reduce the cost of energy bills, among other things.

Welch pushed Congress to pass legislation allowing Vermont to receive federal funding to repair highways and roads damaged by Hurricane Irene. He joined a coalition of 50 Democratic and Republican House members from states affected by Irene to make his case. He advocated for Republicans and Democrats to work together on many of the key issues plaguing our country today.[35]

On February 19, 2016, Welch endorsed Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination for president.[36] He endorsed him again in 2020.[37]

On December 18, 2019, Welch voted for both articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump.[38]

Personal life

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.[39] His first wife, Joan Smith, died of cancer in 2004. Welch has five stepchildren from his first marriage and three from his second.


  1. ^ Forgey, Quint. "Rep. Peter Welch launches Senate bid for Leahy's seat". POLITICO. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  2. ^ "Rep. Peter Welch announces run for U.S. Senate". WCAX-TV. Burlington, Vt. November 22, 2021. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Peter Welch '73 Elected to Congress from Vermont". BerkeleyLaw. The Regents of the University of California. November 9, 2006. Archived from the original on July 8, 2008. Retrieved October 6, 2008.
  4. ^ Appel, JM. Phoning Home University of South Carolina Press, 2014
  5. ^ New York Times, The 1990 Elections: State By State; Northeast, November 7, 1990
  6. ^ "No Mud Flung in Race for House in Vt". Fox News.
  7. ^ "Write-ins give Welch GOP nomination". The Barre Montpelier Times Agnus. September 18, 2008. Archived from the original on November 3, 2012.
  8. ^ House Election Results: G.O.P. Keeps Control Sep 13, 2017
  9. ^ Welch wins 7th term as US House Representative for Vt Nov 6, 2018
  10. ^ Peter Welch Wins 8th Term in U.S. House Nov 3, 2020
  11. ^ "Republican Donka tries again to unseat Welch". The Burlington Free Press. October 26, 2014. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  12. ^ "'You just got Welch'd': Vermont Rep's comments during Trump impeachment hearing make waves". Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  13. ^, H.R.5366 - Overseas Contractor Reform Act, introduced 20 May 2010, accessed 18 January 2021
  14. ^, H.R.3588 - Overseas Contractor Reform Act, accessed 18 January 2021
  15. ^ "Peter Welch on the Issues". Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  16. ^ "Congressman Peter Welch: Committees and Caucuses". U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  17. ^ "90 Current Climate Solutions Caucus Members". Citizen´s Climate Lobby. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  18. ^ "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  19. ^ "Committees and Caucuses". Congressman Peter Welch. December 13, 2012.
  20. ^ "Members". Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  21. ^ "Caucus Members". Congressional Progressive Caucus. Archived from the original on October 22, 2017. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  22. ^ "Caucus Membrs". US House of Representatives. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  23. ^ "Members". Safe Climate Caucus - Rep. Alan Lowenthal.
  24. ^ "Yale Daily News - Endowment spending may be mandated". Archived from the original on October 9, 2008.
  25. ^ "Protestors camp out in Welch's congressional office". March 20, 2007. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  26. ^ a b "Vermont Guardian".
  27. ^ a b c d e "Project Vote Smart - Representative Peter F. Welch - Interest Group Ratings". May 14, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  28. ^ a b c "Project Vote Smart - Representative Peter F. Welch - Voting Record". July 30, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  29. ^ "Bio : Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vermont) biography". Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  30. ^ "Project Vote Smart - National Taxpayers Union Rating". Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  31. ^ "Caring For Our Veterans". Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  32. ^ "House passes Welch-authored resolution honoring Captain Richard Phillips and the U.S. Navy". April 22, 2009. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  33. ^ "Providing Health Care For All". Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  34. ^ "Energy efficiency means more jobs". May 5, 2010. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  35. ^ "VPR "Welch Is Hopeful Irene Repair Money Will Be Approved" - Transcript". November 3, 2011. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  36. ^ Burbank, April (February 19, 2016). "Rep. Peter Welch throws support behind Bernie Sanders". Retrieved February 20, 2016.
  37. ^ Krieg, Gregory (February 19, 2019). "Sanders taps new campaign manager, gets endorsements from top Vermont lawmakers". CNN. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
  38. ^ Panetta, Grace. "WHIP COUNT: Here's which members of the House voted for and against impeaching Trump". Business Insider.
  39. ^ 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
Vermont Senate Preceded by??? Member of the Vermont Senatefrom the Windsor County district 1981–1989 Succeeded byRichard McCormack Preceded byRobert A. Bloomer President pro tempore of the Vermont Senate 1985–1989 Succeeded byDoug Racine Preceded byCheryl Rivers Member of the Vermont Senatefrom the Windsor County district 2001–2007 Succeeded byAlice Nitka Preceded byPeter Shumlin President pro tempore of the Vermont Senate 2003–2007 Succeeded byPeter Shumlin Party political offices Preceded byMadeleine Kunin Democratic nominee for Governor of Vermont 1990 Succeeded byHoward Dean U.S. House of Representatives Preceded byBernie Sanders Member of the U.S. House of Representativesfrom Vermont's at-large congressional district 2007–present Incumbent U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial) Preceded byAdrian Smith United States representatives by seniority 101st Succeeded byJohn Yarmuth