Peter Welch was born on May 2, 1947, in Springfield, Massachusetts. He earned a BA from the College of the Holy Cross in 1969, and a JD from the UC Berkeley School of Law in 1973. Welch subsequently worked as a public defender and later founded his own law firm. He served as a Democrat in the Vermont State Senate from 1981-89, and in 2006 the voters of Vermont's “at-large” Congressional District elected him to the U.S. House of Representatives. Welch continues to hold that seat and is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Claiming that the greenhouse-gas emissions produced by human industrial activity are a principal cause of potentially catastrophic “climate change,” Welch supports the implementation of a cap-and-trade system to limit those emissions via carbon taxes. He also believes that the Environmental Protection Agency should be authorized to regulate greenhouse gases; he endorses the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol; and he advocates the raising of CAFE standards on American-made automobiles, a practice that has diminished the structural integrity of many vehicles and has led directly to the deaths of thousands of drivers each year. In 2015 Welch was a vocal opponent of the Keystone XL pipeline, which, had it been approved for construction, would have carried some 800,000 barrels of tar sands oil from Canada to refineries in the American Gulf Coast each day.
In May 2007, Welch voted in favor of withdrawing U.S. soldiers out of Iraq as quickly as possible, notwithstanding the recently initiated troop surge that would ultimately prove decisive in turning the tide of the Iraq War in America's favor.
On January 27, 2010, Welch was one of 54 Members of Congress who signed a letter calling on President Barack Obama to pressure Israel to end its blockade of Gaza—a blockade that had been imposed in order to prevent Hamas from importing weaponry from Iran and Syria.
A supporter of amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants who currently reside in the United States, Welch backed the Obama Administration's controversial “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) program. Initiated in June 2012, this executive action guaranteed that most DREAM Act-eligible individuals would be granted legal status, work permits, access to certain publicly funded social services, and protection from deportation for a period of two years. Welch also supported Obama's November 2014 Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program, which authorized similar benefits for millions of illegals not covered by the DACA edict.
Welch objected strongly when Republican House Speaker John Boehner—without first asking President Obama for his approval—invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to the U.S. Congress on March 3, 2015, about the gravity of the growing Iranian nuclear threat and his (Netanyahu's) “profound disagreement” with the deal that the Obama Administration was pursuing with Iran in an effort to curb that threat. After Netanyahu's speech, Welch tweeted that “[n]o single individual has done more harm to the vitally important U.S.-Israeli relationship than Netanyahu”; that the Prime Minister lacked the “temperament & judgment to be custodian of US/Israel relationship”; and that Netanyahu was guilty of trying to “undermine delicate negotiations over Iran's nuclear program.”
In October 2015, Welch joined a number of fellow Congressional Democrats at a private reception hosted by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to celebrate the roll-out of the deal which the Obama administration and the governments of five other countries—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Germany—had recently signed with Iran. While that agreement placed some temporary restrictions on Tehran's nuclear ambitions, it virtually guaranteed that the Iranians would be able to develop nuclear weapons within a decade or so. For details of the accord's provisions, click here.
As matters of principle, Welch strongly believes that:
- all women should have unrestricted access to taxpayer-funded abortion services;
- to compensate for past and continuing societal injustices, private companies today should be legally required to implement affirmative-action hiring and promotion policies that give preference to African Americans and women;
- all forms of religious expression in public places—such as prayer in public schools or the posting of the Ten Commandments in government buildings—should be forbidden;
- restrictions on immigration are fundamentally racist because they tend to disproportionately prevent nonwhites from entering the country;
- Obamacare should be continuously expanded until a government-run, single-payer healthcare system is achieved;
- voter ID laws are, by and large, racially motivated attempts to suppress minority voting;
- federal spending on jobs and infrastructure is vital to helping the national economy recover from recession;
- the nationalization of banks and corporations is preferable to government bailouts of those entities; and
- wealthy people should pay much higher tax rates than those who earn less, as Welch's 2006 campaign website articulated when it condemned the Bush administration for waging a “radical and irresponsible” “assault on the middle class” by giving “tax cuts we can’t afford to those who don’t need them—the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.”
For an overview of Welch's voting record on a variety of key issues, click here.
For more information on Peter Welch, click here.