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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Welch: Trump's DACA Decision Puts 42 Vermonters at Risk

Posted By on Tue, Sep 5, 2017 at 3:10 PM

Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) speaks to the media Tuesday at Burlington International Airport. - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Terri Hallenbeck
  • Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) speaks to the media Tuesday at Burlington International Airport.
Forty-two Vermonters’ immigration status is uncertain now that President Donald Trump has vowed to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, according to Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

Speaking at Burlington International Airport on Tuesday before he boarded a flight to Washington, D.C., Welch said he plans to urge his colleagues to restore the program. Vermont’s two senators said this week they agree that Congress should take action, as did Gov. Phil Scott.

DACA, enacted by president Barack Obama in 2012, has given legal protections to nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.

“This is the height of cruelty,” Welch said of Trump’s promise to phase out the program. “The only country they’ve ever known … is right here in the United States of America.”

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Monday, August 14, 2017

No, Neo-Nazi Website the Daily Stormer Is Not Based in Burlington

Posted By on Mon, Aug 14, 2017 at 9:18 PM

The hate map - SPLC
  • Splc
  • The hate map
Burlington likely has little in common with cities such as Cullman, Ala., or Mountain View, Calif.

But the three locales share a dark designation: They’re among dozens on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “hate map,” which tracks hate-group activity across the U.S.

Various places on the map are marked with insignias associated with racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic groups. The map drew renewed attention after the weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Va., during a rally of white supremacists.

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Bernie Sanders Talks Health Care, Cows During Franklin County Visit

Posted By on Mon, Aug 14, 2017 at 8:08 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders talks with dairy farmers in East Fairfield. - ALICIA FREESE
  • Alicia Freese
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders talks with dairy farmers in East Fairfield.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) seemed comfortable Monday during a swing through Franklin County to meet with core constituents, including health care professionals, senior citizens and dairy farmers. At all three stops, Vermont’s junior senator discussed his “Medicare-for-all” proposal — but he refused to address questions about how hard he’ll push Democrats to back the plan.

In the morning, Sanders toured the Northern Tier Center for Health clinic in Richford, where he peppered staff with questions about the opiate epidemic and access to dental care.

From there, he traveled to the Franklin County Senior Center in St. Albans and pitched his proposed legislation that would allow anyone to receive Medicare, the federal health insurance program currently available only to people over 65.

“We’re taking on the whole world to make this happen,” he told a crowd of more than 50.

Residents dined on strawberry shortcake and listened intently as Sanders decried the “outrageous” cost of prescription drugs. He compared the U.S. health care system unfavorably to Canada’s, which provides universal coverage.

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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Walters: Leahy Channels PAC Money Through His Very Own PAC

Posted By on Sun, Aug 6, 2017 at 4:07 AM

Sen. Patrick Leahy - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) won another six-year term last November and doesn't face reelection until the year 2022, but his fundraising operation continues to function smoothly.

Not so much for his own reelection fund, but for another organization he controls: the Green Mountain Political Action Committee. It's a so-called "leadership PAC," a vehicle for political spending not directly related to a candidate's own campaign. In Leahy's case, much of the proceeds go to help fellow Democrats across the country.

It also serves another purpose: The Green Mountain PAC is a catchment for the special-interest money that flows freely in Washington, D.C. It allows Leahy to collect and spend big bucks — in part, to maintain his year-round political apparatus — without tainting his traditional reelection fund.

Here's how. On July 15, Leahy's reelection committee filed its quarterly finance report. Leahy for Senate collected $32,000 in donations, only $3,000 of which came from PACs. Pocket change by senatorial standards.

On July 31, the Green Mountain PAC reported contributions totaling $253,000 in the first six months of this year. Nearly half of that came from corporate and special interest PACs. And when you scan through the contributions from individuals, nearly half of that total came from the D.C. area, mostly from lobbyists, attorneys and others who seek to influence lawmaking and regulatory processes.

In short, Leahy's PAC benefits greatly from the senator's position of power, swelling its coffers with top-dollar gifts from special interests and wealthy donors.

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Walters: Welch Defends Consensus Building in the Age of Trump

Posted By on Thu, Aug 3, 2017 at 12:40 PM

  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Rep. Peter Welch
Remember the joke about the young boy and the pile of horse manure? The one where the boy began digging furiously through the fertilizer, exclaiming "With all this manure, there's got to be a horse in here somewhere!"

Well, that little boy is Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and the manure pile is — need I say — President Donald Trump's Washington.

Welch is doing his best to ignore the noise, the chaos, the tweetstorms and that whole Russia thing so he can focus on actual lawmaking.

"This is a very volatile time with this president," says Welch. "But all of us have to do our best to advocate for policies that are going to be beneficial to the American people."

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Walters: Sanders Challenger Still In the Race

Posted By on Wed, Aug 2, 2017 at 1:57 PM

Jon Svitavsky - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • Jon Svitavsky
Reports of the demise of Jon Svitavsky's U.S. Senate campaign are greatly exaggerated.

So says the social worker and advocate for the homeless, after his campaign Twitter account posted a message on Tuesday saying "The Svitavsky Campaign is Terminated."

Svitavsky is a political neophyte who announced last month that he would challenge incumbent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for the Democratic nomination in 2018.

"I fired my campaign manager," explains Svitavsky. "He ran the Twitter account. I never had a lot to do with it."

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Walters: A Somber Leahy Recounts McCain Health Care Vote

Posted By on Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 5:18 PM

Sen. Patrick Leahy speaks to reporters at Burlington International Airport - JOHN WALTERS
  • John Walters
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy speaks to reporters at Burlington International Airport
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) returned home from Washington, D.C., Friday afternoon on "less than an hour" of sleep. He had been up until the wee hours of the morning for a dramatic vote on the fate of the Affordable Care Act.

Like his district-mate, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Leahy was among the 51 senators to oppose Republicans' last-ditch repeal measure.

The senior senator was clearly fatigued as he held a press conference at the Burlington International Airport. "I wore a tie only because you guys are here," he told reporters. "Halfway to Middlesex, this tie is gonna be off, let me tell you."

It had been a long, long night, to be sure. But Leahy had borne a heavier burden than most, due to his long friendship with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who had cast the deciding vote against his own party's bill.

Leahy and McCain have known each other for more than 30 years and have bonded over — of all things — skin cancer. Both McCain and Leahy's wife, Marcelle, are skin cancer survivors who have had to maintain constant vigilance against the disease's return. And now McCain is in the fight of his life against brain cancer.

The Arizona Republican's vote early Friday morning was a bit anticlimactic for Vermont's senior senator. "Many of us had talked with him," Leahy said. "Those of us who knew him well knew how he was going to vote."

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Leahy, Sanders Condemn Senate Obamacare Repeal Vote

Posted By on Tue, Jul 25, 2017 at 6:58 PM

Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders
Vermont’s two U.S. senators lambasted the Republican-controlled chamber’s decision Tuesday to begin debating repeal of the Affordable Care Act, calling it “dangerous” and “disastrous.”

Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) joined their 46 Democratic and independent colleagues, along with two Republicans, in opposing the effort, but Vice President Mike Pence broke a 50-50 tie. That allowed debate to go forward on legislation that could fundamentally alter the country’s health care system.

The vote came as a surprise to many, who assumed President Donald Trump’s effort to do away with Obamacare had failed last week after four key Republican senators announced they wouldn’t support a proposed replacement bill. Tuesday’s vote allows the debate on new health care legislation to proceed, but it’s unclear what version, if any, will actually pass.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Trump Admin Axes Millions in Funding for Vermont Nonprofit

Posted By on Fri, Jul 21, 2017 at 5:36 PM

Meagan Downey leads a training last June that was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant. - COURTESY OF YOUTH CATALYTICS
  • Courtesy of Youth Catalytics
  • Meagan Downey leads a training last June that was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant.
President Donald Trump’s administration has rescinded more than $2 million of grant funding intended for a Vermont nonprofit that is working to prevent teen pregnancy — decimating the group’s finances, according to one of its directors.

The Charlotte-based Youth Catalytics has provided training and research to youth services organizations around the country for 35 years. During Barack Obama’s presidency, the group won a five-year federal grant for pregnancy prevention work that began in 2016 with $564,000 in funding. Earlier this month, the Office of Adolescent Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services informed the organization that it had terminated the remaining four years of the grant — a loss of about $2.25 million.

“Due to changes in program priorities, it has been determined that it is in the best interest of the federal government to no longer continue funding for the Providing Capacity Building Assistance to OAH Teen Pregnancy Prevention Grantees program,” the July 5 letter read.

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Dubies Bring Vermont Maple Syrup to Trump’s White House

Posted By on Mon, Jul 17, 2017 at 9:55 PM

Marianne Dubie greets President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on Monday as Brian Dubie (left) and Mark Dubie (right) look on. - COURTESY BRIAN DUBIE
  • Courtesy Brian Dubie
  • Marianne Dubie greets President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on Monday as Brian Dubie (left) and Mark Dubie (right) look on.
Mark and Marianne Dubie were on vacation in Arizona when the invitation came last Wednesday to display their Dubie Family Maple products at a 50-state Made in America showcase at the White House.

“We really didn’t believe it at first,” Mark Dubie said by phone Monday afternoon.

Despite logistical challenges, the husband-and-wife team accepted the invite and scurried off to Staples in Phoenix to create poster boards championing Vermont’s sweet stuff.

They were met Monday in Washington, D.C., by Dubie’s brother, Brian, who flew in with two suitcases carrying 70 pounds of maple syrup and maple candies.

Later in the day, the three Dubies welcomed President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and several hundred other visitors to their exhibit in the White House Blue Room.

“It was really cool,” Mark told Seven Days after leaving the White House. “The president spent five minutes with us.”

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