A Message From Peter

This has been a challenging and painful year as we have tried to navigate the serious health effects and economic devastation of the COVID pandemic. We are all missing our families, our friends and the “normal” personal interactions that we have been deprived of or that have been altered for most of the year. Many people have lost their jobs, become food insecure, and struggled to pay rent and student loans. Our small businesses are hanging on by a thread, and our kids, parents and teachers are working through the challenges of a virtual learning environment. And too many loved ones will be missing this holiday season, taken from us by this terrible virus.

But help is here. Vermont first responders have already received the first doses of safe and effective vaccines, and more is on the way. I will continue to do all I can to bring back the relief that Vermonters need from the federal government to get through this unprecedented challenge and build back better.

I wish you a safe, healthy and happy holiday season.

- Peter

Congress Passes COVID Relief

On Monday, December 21st, Peter voted in support of a $900 billion bipartisan bill to deliver immediate relief to Americans suffering because of the coronavirus pandemic. The bill includes significant relief for families, individuals, small businesses, schools, and healthcare providers. It also includes robust funding for vaccine distribution and COVID testing and tracing. “This compromise is not the perfect bill but it’s critical and long overdue. I supported this relief bill because it will provide a lifeline to individuals, families, and small businesses who have been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic going into a brutal winter,” said Peter. “Though this bill does not go nearly far enough, the relief is immediate and necessary, including additional unemployment benefits for those who have lost their jobs, direct payments to help keep Americans afloat during this difficult time, increased food benefits for hungry families and additional aid for our small businesses. Vermonters need significantly more aid to get through this pandemic, while we wait for vaccines to be widely available. I will continue to fight for more resources for Vermont in the new Congress to help us get back on our feet and build back better.”

117th Congress

Peter is looking forward to continuing to fight for Vermonters in the new Congress and working with a new administration to make progress on critical issues: lowering prescription drug prices, deploying broadband throughout Vermont, addressing climate change, and providing much needed COVID relief for struggling families and small businesses.

Safe, Effective Vaccines Are Here

The federal government has approved safe and effective vaccines. Doses of the new vaccines have already been administered to some front-line workers in Vermont and around the country. The vaccines recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been reviewed and analyzed by scientists and public health experts from around the world. The vaccine approval process is rigorous and peer reviewed, and includes analyzing data collected from extensive clinical trials. In addition to ensuring the vaccines are effective, the FDA makes sure the vaccines are safe and the benefits outweigh the potential risks. Congressman Welch will be receiving a vaccine in 2021 and encourages all Vermonters to get vaccinated when they are able. Click here for more information on the vaccines and how they are being distributed.

Save Our Stages

The Save Our Stages Act authored and championed by Peter passed the House and Senate on December 21st, as part of the congressional relief package. Live music venues are the heart of our downtowns because they so often serve as a central meeting place for friends and neighbors to relax and enjoy good music. His Save Our Stages act creates a $15 billion grant program to keep these important venues open. “Independent live music and entertainment venues help make Vermont such a special place to live,” said Peter. “Any music fan or performer knows that a livestream is just not the same as a live concert. Unfortunately, the PPP and other federal aid programs simply do not work for live music venues that cannot reopen until we stop virus transmission. We need to make sure they get the support they need to survive the pandemic, so they are ready to host all of us at a show in the future.”

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Peter was joined by musician Grace Potter and Alex Crothers, owner of Higher Ground, to discuss the legislation. Read more.

Helping Local Restaurants Survive

In Burlington, Peter was joined by local restaurant owners to unveil his bipartisan legislation to create a $120 billion grant program to help local restaurants survive during and after the pandemic. Peter has held numerous e-meetings with restaurant owners throughout Vermont since the start of the pandemic and he has heard a consistent message: “we need help.” This legislation was introduced in direct response to those pleas for help. Although this legislation was not included in the COVID relief package, Peter will continue to fight for it in the new Congress. 

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Peter was joined for a press conference on Church Street by local restaurant owners Cara Chigazola-Tobin of Honey Road, Sue Bette of the Bluebird Barbecue and Matt Birong of 3 Squares Café.

Black Lives Matter

Racial equity advocates joined Peter in front of the Vermont State House to highlight legislation he co-sponsored in the House that includes comprehensive reforms to hold police accountable, change the culture of law enforcement, and build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. “Americans across the country are speaking out and demanding action to address the crisis of systematic racism and police brutality,” said Peter. “This bill is an important, concrete response to the pleas of millions of people for Congress to act. It will immediately prohibit deadly law enforcement tactics like chokeholds and will give citizens the tools to hold reckless officers accountable so that we can change the racist culture present in too many police departments. This bill is a comprehensive first step, but it is not enough. We must do more to build a just society free of systemic racism that has held Black people down in our country for far too long.” With Peter’s support, the bill passed the House by a 236-181 vote.

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Peter in front of the Vermont State House with Christel Tonoki, Xusana Davis, Skyler Nash, and Kyle Dodson. Read More.

Racial Justice Roundtable

Peter was joined by Congressmember Karen Bass (author of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 and Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus) and Vermont Racial Justice advocates for a Facebook Live virtual discussion on police reform, systematic racial bias and racial equity. Click here to watch the event in its entirety. 

Holding the USDA Accountable

In October, Peter held a press conference to hold the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) accountable for their poor implementation of the critical Farmers to Families Food Box Program. Despite pressure from Peter, and Senators Leahy and Sanders, the USDA awarded an out of state contract to deliver essential food boxes to needy Vermont families, resulting in delays and harm to local farmers.

Lending A Helping Hand

Peter has been helping distribute food directly to hungry Vermonters. He has also met with different hunger and farm groups working to end food insecurity in Vermont and to hear what they need to continue their vital work during these difficult times.

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Peter helped the National Guard at a food distribution site in Lyndonville

 

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Peter joined volunteers from AgeWell Vermont to deliver meals to older Vermonters in Franklin County. The work that these amazing volunteers do providing meals and companionship is now more important than ever.

 

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Peter visited AALV (Association of Africans Living in Vermont) farmers in Burlington who recently received a grant from the USDA to expand their ‘New Farms for New Americans’ program.

Need Assistance?

These are challenging times. It is vital to get the most up-to-date information from official sources and know where to turn for help.

General Information - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Status in Vermont – Vermont Department of Health 

COVID-19 Recovery Resource Center – Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development

Travel Information - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Protecting Yourself from Coronavirus Scams - Federal Trade Commission

Information for Small Businesses - U.S. Small Business Administration

Sent by the Office of Congressman Welch.
Need help? Contact your Congressman.

 

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