Sequestering in the White House

The talk of the town right now is sequester, sequester, sequester and it will surely impact Maine as much as anywhere, as outlined by the White House. But one of the more interesting things for Mainers to pay attention to is not how the sequester is impacting Maine, but how Maine’s delegation isn’t having much impact on the sequester.

That’s a symptom of the current state of politics here in the Capitol more than it is about the players in Maine’s delegation, though it is meaningfully depleted of some power with the retirement of Olympia Snowe, who served as senior senator and dealmaker for decades.

But – and this is by no means a newsflash – polarization in Congress has eroded the ability of anyone, even a centrist-minded U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, or an independent U.S. Sen. Angus King, who aligns with Democrats, to work on any sort of compromise deal. Even if senators could cobble together some sort of alternative cut and tax package, it wouldn’t win approval from the more conservative Republicans who run the House. And thanks to how the House operates, Maine Democratic U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud play no role at all in any sequester-avoidance equation.

What Mainers should keep an eye on is how a deal is stuck, and there will be one eventually, and what that means for how decisions in D.C. are made going forward. Both the president and members of Congress have lamented the recent habit of lurching from one man-made fiscal crisis to the next and when that’s the case, power-peddlers at the top cut the deals, not members of the bodies themselves.

There is room for all members of the delegation to get their hands dirty on other large bits of legislation working through Congress, however. Both immigration and gun control measures are of great import to Mainers and are (sort of) getting cobbled together through a committee process. This means individual members can have more agency and input in the legislation.

As some of your eyes and ears down here in the district, I aim to add context to the news of the day and some of the ‘whys’ behind some of the ‘whats’ as decisions are made. I look forward to putting my passion for Maine politics back to good use in the coming weeks and months, so feel free to let me know about any Maine – D.C. happenings that you are curious to learn more about or questions you have.