Vermont at-large Congressman Peter Welch met with several groups this week to discuss the effects of the pandemic and provide updates on the recently signed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
Democrat Peter Welch met virtually with Vermont disability advocates. The American Rescue Plan increases funding for home and community based services for individuals with disabilities and includes behavioral health support. “You have been living with the effects of this virus and what it’s meant to the disruption of the lives of wonderful people and your voices have mattered and I think had an impact on what we’ve been able to do and respond to in this latest American Rescue package.”
Disability Rights Vermont Executive Director Ed Paquin said the past year has affected how his staff has been able to provide service. “A lot of times my staff can resolve issues by talking to a patient or a prisoner and then kind of going down the hall and talking to that person’s social worker or that person’s provider and get something resolved. And now interactions like that have to either be done on the phone or done through a computer or by mail. Especially with corrections, it’s been really hard with corrections. And we continue to serve the individuals but making that communication happen has been a real challenge.”
Congressman Welch later participated in a virtual Town Hall with Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility. Members of the group pledge to run their businesses based on three bottom lines: economic, social and environmental. Welch told the group that triple bottom line concept should be universal during a pandemic. “It’s not enough to just want to make money at any expense. And the well-being of our state and the well-being of our economy and really the well-being of the mutual relationships among citizens of the state so depends on an acknowledgement that there has to be shared benefit and there has to be shared responsibility. And if ever we’ve seen the necessity of having that triple bottom line approach it’s been through this pandemic.”
Discussion with the businesses included the vaccine rollout, child care, broadband access, and carbon taxes. VBSR Executive Director Jordan Giaconia is encouraged that flexibility is included in the current funding package. “That flexibility is absolutely key having navigated the CRF (Coronavirus Relief Fund) guidance from last year. That was a real bear. So I have to thank you all for that.”
Welch said the American Rescue Plan should help individuals and businesses in all sectors. “You were hurting and your enterprises needed help with the PPP, your individual payrolls, your individuals with their incomes have been hammered. We needed money for the vaccine. I mean the provisions in this legislation are about helping America not about advancing a political agenda.”