Welch Sworn In, Casts First Votes For New Speaker
Joined by family and friends, Peter Welch was sworn in today as Vermont's sole member of the United States House of Representatives.
Welch then cast his first vote to elect the nation's first female Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
Comprehensive ethics reform, championed by the new Democratic leadership, is expected to pass the House this evening.
"It's a great honor to be serving Vermonters and begin changing the direction of this country. Today marks a major step in getting government working again for the American people," said Welch.
"Passing ethics reform is an important first step for fresh start as Congress begins an aggressive agenda of change," he added.
"In our first 100 legislative hours, we will pass legislation to restore fiscal responsibility in Washington, fulfill the 9-11 Commission recommendations to make us safer at home, reform Medicare Part D, raise the minimum wage, make college more affordable, and end the subsidies to Big Oil to fund renewable energy."
Welch was also asked by House leadership to preside on the House floor, scheduled for 10 p.m. this evening.
The ethics reform bans gifts from lobbyists and lobbyist financed travel, prohibits use of company planes, ends the infamous "K Street Project" of lobbyist influence, includes ethics training, and ethics enforcement.
In addition, the reforms include provisions to get Congress back to work by reinstating long-practiced democratic principles for the management of the House, ending 2-day work weeks common in the 109th Congress, curbing the abuses of voting time, and requiring that Members have adequate time to review legislation before voting.
As the next initiative on the first "100 hours" agenda, the House is expected to pass legislation to restore fiscal responsibility to Washington by reestablishing pay-as-you-go budget rules, prohibiting reconciliation legislation that reduces the budget surplus or increases the deficit, and establishes broad earmark reform.
Welch made restoring "Pay-go" budgeting and a return to fiscal responsibility a cornerstone of his campaign for Congress.
"We have hit the ground running and Congress is finally doing the work Americans expect us to do," added Welch.