Welch begins orientation

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(Shaw) And I’m Benjamin Shaw in Washington.

(Airplane Sounds)

(Shaw) Democratic Congressman Elect Peter Welch flew into Ronald Regan National Airport Sunday night.

(Airport Sounds)

(Shaw) He and the other new members were greeted by marines.

(Welch) “Sen. John Kerry was on the plane with me. He got off but didn’t have the Marine escort. So what these folks have told me is this is a once in a life time situation, and I kind of like it.”

(Shaw) After grabbing his bags, Welch was off to the Capitol Hill Hyatt where he and the other Freshman members are staying for this week of orientation.

It’s a busy week and so much information is thrown at new members that it’s often compared to drinking from a fire hose. They learn about building a staff, running an ethical office, balancing family life.

(Rogan) “We’ve gone back to school.”

(Shaw) Bob Rogan is moving from Burlington to Washington DC to be the congressman elects new Chief of Staff. Right now he’s in charge of the nuts and bolts of getting up and running.

(Rogan) “This is a little like starting a business from scratch and having the grand opening in 6 weeks. We have to pick out offices in Vermont and DC. We have to hire staff we have to buy computers.”

(Shaw) On Monday all the new Senators and Congressmen took a trip to the White House.

(Welch) “Most of us were kind of slack jawed about that experience.”

(Shaw) Welch says he had three brief conversations with President Bush.

(Welch) “It was quite friendly. In the last one he was starting to ask about people he knew in Vermont. He had to go pack his bags. That was the last thing he said to me. He had to go pack his bags because he’s going to see Putin.”

(Shaw) He says he also ran into his predecessor, Senator Elect Bernie Sanders at the White House.

(Welch) “And actually He was very helpful. I started asking him questions about committee assignments, how to go about it, getting practical advice.”

(Shaw) Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy says he’s excited to have Welch in Washington and believes hell be a strong part of the tight knit Vermont delegation.

(Leahy) “We’re all good friends. We’ve known each other for well over 30 years and its going to work well for Vermont.”

(Shaw) Welch may have fought hard to win his election, but now the real work begins for Vermont’s newly elected Congressman.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Benjamin Shaw on Capitol Hill.

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