Vermont U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy spoke to reporters Thursday at the Burlington International Airport as he returned to Vermont from Washington. Most of the discussion focused on the recently passed 2020 appropriations agreement and the pending impeachment trial.
Vermont’s Patrick Leahy is the longest serving U.S. senator. The Democrat is vice chair of the Appropriations committee and sits on the Judiciary Committee. He outlined what he described as successful bipartisan efforts to complete the appropriations bill, which was signed by President Trump last week. “We did what everybody said was impossible. We passed a major appropriations bill which has been signed into law so there would not be a government shutdown. One of the things that I'm very, very pleased with Senator Grassley, Republican, and I have been working for years with the CREATES Act, to say that a brand named pharmaceuticals can no longer use predatory tactics to block generic drugs. It will save the federal government almost $4 billion over the next 10 years. But it's going to save the average consumer throughout the country billions and billions more. So I'm glad that’s there.”
Senator Leahy penned an op-ed for the New York Times regarding the upcoming impeachment trial published Monday. He criticizes fellow Republican Senators Lindsay Graham and Mitch McConnell for failing to uphold an oath of impartial justice and cautions his peers that the Senate too will be on trial. Yet Leahy said he finds the attitude in the chamber is more worried than acrimonious. “There are some as you know who’ll do anything to get 30 seconds on television. They’ll run out and say anything. That does not help the Senate, does not help the country. And the question I get a lot of time insofar as I'm one of the few senators who's actually been on a presidential impeachment trial: what did we do? Well one thing we didn't do: Democrats and Republicans did not coordinate with the White House. We're an independent branch of government. Let's have witnesses. The President may want to politicize it. That's, I think, a mistake. It’s a mistake for history. But many of us, the more senior ones don't want to. We would like to see the Senate meet seriously and determine what to do.”
Leahy was answering questions adjacent to a departure lounge at the Burlington airport and Erin Ryan of Worcester, Vermont stepped forward with a query. “I’m wondering as a citizen who’s tired of the hatred and tired of the sexism and the concentration camps, what more can citizens do to support change?”
Senator Leahy: “It may sound terribly political and I don’t mean it this way I almost think that the elections, the congressional, senatorial and presidential one, this coming year is going to make that difference.”
Senator Leahy was first elected to the Senate in 1974 and has participated in six impeachment trials: for five judges and President Bill Clinton’s.