They may be some of the most junior members in the chamber, but old pals Sens. Cynthia Lummis and Peter Welch are psyched to join forces and get things done in the new congress.
“He’s extraordinary,” the Wyoming Republican said of the Vermont Democrat who succeeded retired Sen. Pat Leahy last fall. Lummis, who served alongside Welch for nearly a decade in the US House, told Insider that she’s thrilled to be working with him again.
“I think that his history of bipartisan discussions will serve him well in the Senate. And it will serve the Senate well,” Lummis said, adding, “I’m very excited that he’s on the Senate side.”
Welch was equally enthused about the reunion, noting that as one of the freshmen senators in the 118th Congress he actually inherited Lummis’ old digs.
“We’re currently working out of her old transition office space, and she’s stopped by to say hello a few times,” Welch said of their latest connection.
And the well-wishing isn’t just something they do in private. Insider spotted the two having what looked like a lively catch-up session in one of the Senate subway tunnels late last week.
While walking from the Capitol to the Senate office buildings, Welch stopped Lummis, who had two staffers with her, to chat. Lummis let out a booming “Well, hello!” and flashed a big smile. Welch reciprocated by placing both of his hands on her shoulders and holding them there for a few seconds, performing what looked like a straight-arm hug.
The huddle didn’t last that long, but the vibe was definitely very friendly and both sides seemed to relish the chance encounter.
That type of genuine affection is rare in today’s bitterly divided Congress, where partisans on both sides would rather bash opponents to score political points than reach across the aisle. But Welch said he and Lummis “go back a long way” and have cultivated mutual respect for one another.
“We became close after a trip to Afghanistan,” Welch said of a 2010 bonding session they had overseas.
He said they also co-sponsored legislation to improve Washington. “We’ve worked together on government transparency and accountability issues,” Welch said of some of their past collaborations, which also include protecting the environment and easing taxes.
While they haven’t dropped any joint bills in the Senate yet, future collaborations seem almost inevitable.
“We’re on the Commerce committee together, and I think there’s potential to work together on broadband in particular,” Welch said of a new avenue he’d like to explore.
Lummis didn’t map out any immediate priorities she’d like to get in the pipeline but made it very clear that if Welch asks for her support on something he’ll get it.
“I love Pete Welch,” Lummis said. “So that’s a done deal.”
Story link: https://www.businessinsider.com/cynthia-lummis-peter-welch-bipartisan-bill-writing-a-done-deal-2023-2