Peter Welch, Vermont's lone Congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives, has had a distinguished career as a legislative leader, lawyer, and advocate for the underrepresented. His record of accomplishment reflects his commitment to bringing people together to find real solutions to the difficult challenges we face and making government work for all citizens. Peter was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1947 into a family of six children. After high school, Peter attended Holy Cross College. He graduated magna cum laude in 1969.
After his year as a Kennedy Fellow in Chicago, Peter enrolled in law school at the University of California, Berkeley, where he worked in public interest law.
Peter was a founding partner in the firm of Welch, Graham & Manby, Windsor County's longest continuously run legal practice. During his career in law, Peter performed a substantial amount of pro bono work, representing such clients as women denied insurance coverage for cancer treatment and employees whose health-care benefits were taken away. For his efforts in public service, Peter received the President's Award from the Vermont Trial Lawyers' Association.
In 1980 Peter turned to electoral politics, becoming only the second Democrat ever elected to represent Windsor County in the Vermont Senate. When he was reelected in 1982, Democrats chose Peter to be their Minority Leader. In 1985 Peter was unanimously elected by his colleagues to serve as President Pro Tem of the Vermont Senate, becoming the first Democrat to hold this leadership position. During Peter's tenure in the Senate from 1981 to 1988, he spearheaded legislative reforms in environmental, tax, and education policy. Among his top accomplishments was his major role in the establishment of the Housing and Land Conservation Trust Fund, which has financed the construction of hundreds of units of affordable housing and the conservation of thousands of acres of Vermont farm and forest land.
During the 1990s Peter left electoral politics but returned to the Vermont Senate in 2001, when he was appointed by Governor Dean to fill an open seat in Windsor County. Peter was elected in his own right in 2002, and his colleagues again unanimously elected him President Pro Tem.
Welch, who lives in Hartland and Norwich, Vermont, was elected to his first term as Vermont's U.S. Representative in 2006 and was reelected in 2008. Welch serves on the Committee on Energy and Commerce, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.
Welch is married to Margaret Cheney, a member of the Vermont House of Representatives.