Saturday, April 29 marks 100 days since Donald Trump was sworn as the 45th president of the United States. VPR spoke to Vermont’s congressional delegation to get their thoughts on how the first three months of Trump’s presidency have gone.
Read highlights from VPR’s conversations with the delegation below, and listen to the full audio from each interview.
Sen. Patrick Leahy
On how the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency have gone:
“Well, it has been interesting. And it's almost as though he thought that being president would be like running a reality show … But governing the most powerful nation on earth with the largest economy on earth is a lot different than a reality show.
“The biggest thing is, throughout the campaign he promised to unite the country. When I go home on weekends in Vermont, the people I talk with in the grocery stores, the people we heard at a town meeting in Hardwick, the people I just hear coming out of church on Sunday, whether they voted for him or not, they don't feel that it’s a united country.”
On the chance of an independent investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election:
“I think as more facts come out, there's a chance. I think the fact that the Republicans are admitting that the president’s former national security adviser may well have broken the law in his dealings with Russia ... They know that there's more things coming and they're trying to get ahead of the curve… I think it should be an independent prosecutor, and let the chips fall where they may.”
On his priorities moving past the 100-day mark:
“I think what I'd like to do is see the Appropriations Committee be what it should be and do all the appropriations bills, because that can have a real effect on the government and the nature of the government ... When I came to the Senate, I never expected to be the chairman or vice chairman of Appropriations. Now that I am, I want to make the most of it, to leave a better committee … I still believe the Senate can be and should be the conscience of the nation. We strayed from that. I'd like to bring it back.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders
On whether Donald Trump is following through on the populist rhetoric from his campaign:
“I think the truth of the matter is he lied to the American people … Trump ran for president telling the working class of this country he was going to stand with him, he was going to drain the swamp, he was going to provide health care to everybody. Well, it turns out that he has done exactly the opposite of what he promised.
“I think in instance after instance it turns out that he is a representative of the billionaire class in corporate America, and in fact does not have the interest of working families terribly much at heart.”
On his recent tour to areas of the country that voted for Trump:
“People have got to get involved in the political process, and I think what's going on is that people are giving up on the political process. They’re seeing the middle class in decline, they’re seeing all the income and wealth going to the top 1 percent.
“What this trip was about, and I think quite successfully… [was] getting large numbers of people to begin to stand up, get involved in the political process and fight for a government that represents all of us not just the 1 percent.”
On whether the Democrats can make gains in the midterms:
“I am [hopeful]. I believe that the goal now is to increase voter turnout. I think ... you're seeing that in the Women's March that we saw a few months ago, you're seeing that in rallies all over this country … you're seeing that in local people going out to Republican town hall meetings ... I think you are seeing an increasingly politically active base, you're seeing working people and lower-income people and women, you are seeing young people standing up and fighting back.”
Congressman Peter Welch
On the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency:
“It's that period that a new president has to do three things. One is to deliver on promises, two is to reach out and find common ground and work for unity and three [is] to give definition to what are the biggest challenges that the president's going to face and the country is going to face in the next four years. And the president hasn't really succeeded in these things.”
On places where Democrats and Trump could common ground:
“Number one, if we can get infrastructure [spending], I'm going to work on that every day. If we can get lower prescription drug prices, I'm going to be there cooperating. On those things where there is common ground, the president, if he follows through, he's going to find eager Democrats willing to work with him.
“But on some of these other issues, we're going to oppose him. I opposed the wall, I opposed the Muslim ban and ... I oppose repealing health care.”
On priorities moving past the 100-day mark:
“Number one, we've got to restore the institutions of our democracy, starting with Congress. And having it be totally divided is not good for this country ... Second, I'm really inspired by the engagement that citizens have, and it's making a huge difference.
“But finally, we have this huge problem — and it's deepest in rural America — of income inequality. And that's not a result of people's failures in rural America, it's a result of policies that are leaving rural American behind. And I want our governmental policies to help folks back home have a shot."