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Congressman Peter Welch Addresses Pandemic And New Congressional Session With Constituents

Congressman Peter Welch
Congressman Peter Welch

Vermont at-large Congressman Peter Welch has met virtually with a number of organizations recently to discuss expected federal policy as the administration transitions in January, and to discern how various sectors are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Democratic Congressman Peter Welch met recently with Vermont Young Professionals – a networking group for younger business owners. Welch updated the group on federal moves in Washington to address the pandemic and the work to roll out vaccines.  “The good news is there is a vaccine. The challenging news is we’ve got to start delivering it. And the challenging news is that there’s a spike, it’s cold weather and it’s a friendly environment for the spread of the virus.”

Participants posed a number of questions focused on keeping their businesses open and jobs available. Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Matt Harrington wanted to know what was being done to plan beyond short-term recovery from the pandemic.  “Anything around not recovery funding, but resiliency? If another COVID happens and it shuts down 75-percent of our businesses do we have a resiliency plan that then says you know it’s going to be hard but don’t worry we learned our lesson from COVID?"
Welch:  "The resiliency that you’re talking about that is required for when a society faces in this case a once in a hundred year event those have to be systems that are in place in advance of the need to use them. And you know we’ll see if there’s a growing recognition in Congress of the benefit to us to have those systems in place.”

Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Manager Austin Davis cautioned that many young business owners are holding back on major decisions because of the pandemic.  "And I just worry what that means for the next generation of talent and the next generation of community leaders. I think one thing that might be something for us to pursue coming out of this crisis is how do we build within our state or expand on some of our existing employers who might be smaller companies right now, how do we build them to be larger companies by which YP’s can kind of climb to an executive level? And then those employers provide some resiliency in the wake of large events like this and can also buoy the smaller employers around them.”

Welch, a member of the House Energy Committee who was re-elected last month, met virtually this week with the U.S. Green Building Council. He told the group that four years of climate change denial by the Trump administration will change with the incoming Biden administration.  “There is a foundation that has been constructed that is going to be the basis of action when we get into the next Congress. The bottom line here is you go from an attitude where addressing climate change is a threat to addressing climate change is an opportunity. And it’s in that effort of fixing the problems that we have that we that you actually create jobs, you create wealth and you create opportunity.” 

Welch begins his eighth term in January.

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