Peter Welch

The Democrats who voted to keep impeachment options open
Why those who do not yet favor an impeachment inquiry voted against blocking Green’s articles

Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., voted against tabling Rep. Al Green's impeachment articles to keep the option on the table but she does not yet support opening an impeachment inquiry. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A House vote last Wednesday to block Texas Rep. Al Green’s articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump led to some contortions from Democrats yet to support impeachment or opening an inquiry, but it mostly came down to this: keeping those options open. 

About two dozen Democrats who had not been on the record in favor of impeachment proceedings voted with Green against tabling, or basically killing, his articles. A total of 95 Democrats voted that way, but most of those members had previously called for Trump’s impeachment or an inquiry. 

House vote combining drug, health law bills irks Republicans
Combining the two bills sets up a political minefield for Republicans who are torn between the two issues

Reps. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., center, Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, right, and Mark Meadows, R-N.C., are seen during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in Rayburn Building. The House is set to vote Thursday on legislation meant to lower prescription drug prices and strengthen “Obamacare” health insurance exchanges. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House is set to vote Thursday on legislation meant to lower prescription drug prices and strengthen the individual health insurance exchanges, setting up a political minefield for Republicans who are torn between the two issues.

Democratic leaders’ decision to combine legislation that would make it easier to bring generic drugs to market with bills that would bolster the 2010 health care law does not damage the prospects of passage for the package of bills. But that does make it certain that most Republicans will vote against the bipartisan drug pricing legislation.

Trump aide sees room for talks on Democrats’ opioid bill
Trump’s top drug control official left the door open to a bipartisan deal on a bill authorizing billions to address opioid crisis

From left, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Reps. Peter Welch, D-Vt., Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., conduct a news conference in the Capitol on January 10, 2019. Cummings and Elizabeth Warren released a draft bill Wednesday that would authorize $100 billion over a decade to address the opioid crisis. Trump’s aide left the door open Thursday for a bipartisan solution with the bill’s sponsors. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats got a surprising compliment from the Trump administration’s top drug control official at a Thursday hearing as they discussed boosting opioid addiction treatment funding, while Republicans promoted efforts to stem illegal drugs through securing the southern border.

House Oversight and Reform Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., who presided at the full committee hearing, touted a draft bill that Chairman Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland released with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday that would authorize $100 billion over 10 years to address the crisis. The bill, which is supported by all of the committee’s Democrats, faces a tough path to becoming law without Republican support.

Democrats learning their subpoenas are only as powerful as Trump allows
Congress has never faced the all-encompassing opposition to administrative oversight that president is putting up

“We’re fighting all the subpoenas” that Democrats want to throw at his White House and his business empire, President Donald Trump said last week. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

As Donald Trump vows to fight every congressional subpoena issued by House committees investigating his presidency and personal affairs, Democratic lawmakers and strategists are coming to grips with a new reality in which the subpoena might be obsolete.

“At this point, it’s just a piece of paper,” a former senior congressional investigative aide said. “It’s useless.”

So you want to be on ‘Jeopardy!’? The online test draws nigh
If you’re a political wonk, you can follow in the footsteps of four congressional staffers

Isaac Loeb, a legislative aide of Vermont Democrat Rep. Peter Welch, playing Jeopardy. (Courtesy Isaac Loeb)

Alex Trebek may have pancreatic cancer, but the game show must go on. The longtime host, who announced his diagnosis earlier this month, is still taping new episodes of “Jeopardy!” — and the show is still hunting for new contestants.

Mark your calendars, because the official “Jeopardy!” online test opens in less than a week. The exam is your ticket to an in-person audition, provided you can nail 50 questions, each from a different category. 

Mulvaney hosting Camp David meeting with Yarmuth, others
Mulvaney extended the invitation but didn't provide any details of the subject matter of the agenda

Mick Mulvaney, right, then the Office of Management and Budget director, arrives for a Jan. 3, 2018, budget meeting then-Speaker Paul Ryan's office with White House legislative affairs director Marc Short, center, on Jan. 3, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A small group of Republican and Democratic House members are headed to Camp David after votes Friday to meet with White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, to see if they can find common ground on budget and other issues.

Mulvaney extended the invitation but didn't provide any details of the subject matter of the agenda.

Democrats kick off push for Medicare drug price negotiations
The measure includes tactics to urge drugmakers to reach an agreement with Medicare on a price

Reps. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, left, and Peter Welch, D-Vt., attend a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center with House and Senate Democrats on a report which they say shows prescription drug prices have risen under President Trump on May 10, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The leader of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee on Thursday offered a proposal to require the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate prices for drugs covered by the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, is set to formally introduce the bill later Thursday with more than 100 House co-sponsors. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate backed by Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.

Democrat apologizes for forgetting that slavery was a thing in the U.S.
‘Never in the history of this country’ has it been legal to make people work for free, Rep. Welch tweeted

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., apologized Tuesday for forgetting that slavery existed. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Peter Welch did whatever the online iteration of “putting one’s foot in one’s mouth” is, Tuesday when he apparently forgot that slavery existed in the United States.

The Vermont Democrat was trying to publicize a bill he introduced Tuesday prohibiting government agencies from making their employees work without pay.  The bill would provide immediate backpay to federal workers that have been stiffed during the shutdown.

Nuclear Plants Go Belly Up in Democratic Districts. Then What?
Most declining plants are in blue areas, and Congress is taking notice

There wasn’t much celebration when the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant shut its doors — just worry over how to decommission. (Michael Springer/Getty Images file photo)

In Vermont, the relationship between the town of Vernon and its nuclear power plant, known as the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, had always been contentious.

From 1970s-era antinuclear protests to more recent legal battles over a proposal to extend the plant’s license, Vermont residents and their state legislature kept a skeptical eye on the power source, which at one point provided some 70 percent of the state’s electricity.

Drug Prices Could Become a Divisive Issue for Democrats
Internal tensions over Big Pharma could be on full display next Congress

Divisions among Democrats over the pharmaceutical industry could hurt their party’s efforts to address high drug costs if they win a majority next year. (Courtesy iStock)

Democrats are making the cost of prescription drugs a pillar of the party’s health care agenda in the midterms, but if they win a majority for the 116th Congress, the party will have to grapple with internal divisions over the issue that might be magnified next year.

This campaign season has been notable for candidates pushing the party to reject corporate influence. For emboldened progressive Democrats, the party’s current plans might not be enough. Their views compete with those of new candidates from politically moderate areas with a big pharmaceutical industry presence that might be more inclined to join with longtime incumbents who sympathize more with the industry’s perspective.