Welch, Leahy Concerned About The Reality Of A Trump Presidency

Nov 9, 2016

Members of Vermont's Congressional delegation say they are stunned and very surprised that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton. They say their biggest concern is that the work of Congress will become more partisan with the election of Trump.

Rep. Peter Welch says he's still trying to process the national election results.

"I think for a lot of us it's just ... a stunning outcome that we didn't see coming," Welch said Wednesday. "So it's very, very difficult to absorb."

Sen. Patrick Leahy says the message of Trump's election is that many voters strongly distrust the institutions of government.

"He spoke to the fact that people don't like anybody in government," said Leahy. "They don't like the media, and [Trum] can say whatever he wanted, and if anybody disagrees with [him] they're distorting the facts. That was the inherent message."

The key question for Welch is how many of Trump's campaign proposals his new administration will actually pursue.

"Is he going to double down on his rhetoric about Hispanics and Muslims? Is he going to be provocative with military power? Is he going to cozy up to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin?" Welch said. "We just don't know what he is going to do, whether he's going to double down on that rhetoric or he's going to try to temper his approach."

"Is he going to double down on his rhetoric about Hispanics and Muslims? Is he going to be provocative with military power? Is he going to cozy up to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin? We just don't know what he is going to do." — Rep. Peter Welch

And Welch says he hopes that Trump and Congressional GOP leaders won't try to aggressively impose their agenda on the country.

"There's a quality that's often absent in politics, and it's restraint. And my fear is they may overextend themselves rather than restrain themselves, because they do have the majorities in both Houses. And we'll see," Welch said.

Sen. Leahy says he shares that concern.

"The concern that I would have would be that people will find this a reason not to work together. If it's an idea of 'winner takes all' instead of 'the country takes all,' it could be a real problem," Leahy said Wednesday.

"The concern that I would have would be that people will find this a reason not to work together. If it's an idea of 'winner takes all' instead of 'the country takes all,' it could be a real problem." — Sen. Patrick Leahy

Both Leahy and Welch secured reelection Tuesday night. Leahy is the ranking minority member on the Senate Judiciary committee, a panel that will review future Supreme Court nominees.

Leahy thinks Trump's election and his appointments "could end up politicizing the Supreme Court for the next 25 years."

Sen. Bernie Sanders, who spent the last few weeks actively campaigning for Hillary Clinton, released a statement on Trump's victory Wednesday evening:

"Donald Trump tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics and the establishment media. People are tired of working longer hours for lower wages, of seeing decent paying jobs go to China and other low-wage countries, of billionaires not paying any federal income taxes and of not being able to afford a college education for their kids - all while the very rich become much richer.

“To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him. To the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.”

Updated 11/10/2016 11:00 a.m. to include Sen. Bernie Sanders' full remarks.