Gov. Phil Scott hadn’t even reached the podium set up on the Statehouse steps Wednesday before hearing past supporters
WASHINGTON — Rep. Peter Welch says he does not anticipate that the change in House Republican leadership brought on by the retirement of Speaker Paul Ryan will improve relations between the two party caucuses.
Ryan announced Wednesday he would not seek re-election this fall to his Wisconsin House seat. The move positions Republicans for a major overhaul in leadership as a potentially difficult mid-term election season approaches. Ryan will leave the job in November.
When asked if the development could enhance party relations, Welch said: “I don’t see any evidence of that.”
A few hours after news broke that Ryan would be leaving his post, the Vermont Democrat said that though he has had “a very good personal relationship” with the speaker, he has been disappointed by his leadership.
Welch said he has many “vivid memories” of Ryan calling for Congress to use regular order, or a more traditionally normal legislative process.
“He abandoned that as speaker,” Welch said. “I’m sure he didn’t want to, but he didn’t have the capacity to hang onto that view.”
Welch also charged that Ryan failed to achieve one of his core objectives, which was to drive down the national debt.
Ryan adhered to the so-called “Hastert rule,” Welch said — a practice of the former speaker that required any measure that made it to the floor to have support from at least half the Republican caucus. Welch says that empowered the more conservative wing of the party and enhanced partisan division.
As for his own caucus leadership, the Democratic congressman said he expects a reshuffling is on the horizon.
“I think it’s likely that there’s going to be significant changes,” Welch said. “None of us know what they will be.”
Asked if he expects House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will step down, Welch said, “I’m not making predictions on that.”
Welch, a chief deputy whip of the caucus, said he is not focused on changing his role in the party right now. His bigger concern is maintaining connections between Democrats and moderate Republicans, he said.
Whether Republicans retain their majority or the House flips to Democratic control in the November midterms, Welch said he believes there is a need for leadership to focus on building collaboration across the aisle.
“Are we going to earnestly reach out to the other party and try to incorporate the reasonable views of the reasonable members of the other party?” he said.