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Welch Says Bipartisan Budget Vote Shows Congress Can Tackle Tough Issues

Congressman Peter Welch says he’s hopeful that a bipartisan House vote on a new compromise budget agreement shows that Congress can work together on some of the pressing issues facing the country.

Welch says Republicans and Democrats need to focus on their areas of agreement rather than accentuate their differences.

The budget bill was adopted late Thursday night by a vote 332 to 94 with a majority of both Republicans and Democrats supporting the plan.

The agreement restores roughly $60 billion in programs that were subject to the sequestration automatic budget cuts. It pays for this additional spending by imposing higher fees on air travel, a continuation of cuts to Medicare after 2020, and small changes to federal pension programs. Welch voted for the bill.

“I’m frustrated that we weren’t able to get agreement on tax reform, but the bottom line is there’s sequester relief, government is open, and we’re not having a debt default argument again,” said Welch. “So in the world of this Congress that is progress.”

"Let's focus on where we do agree and at least take a small step forward." - Congressman Peter Welch

And Welch says the reduction of the automatic budget cuts will make it easier for individual states to put together their own budgets.“That there’s certainty for Vermont and for other states to what the appropriations will be I think is helpful,” said Welch. “Because now you’ve got this tool that you need certainty in order to try manage even in a constrained fiscal environment.”

Welch says he’s optimistic that the bipartisan vote is a sign that Republicans and Democrats can work together on other important pieces of legislation.

“Let’s focus on where we do agree and at least take a small step forward because we can find areas of agreement that’s really quite important I think,” said Welch.  “Let’s hope that that spirit gets us to move on immigration reform gets us to move on energy efficiency gets us to move on some of these things where there is common ground.”

Welch says he’s disappointed that the budget agreement does not include a provision extending long term unemployment benefits. He hopes Congress will address this issue when it returns to Washington in January.

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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