Maine delegation united in shutdown opposition

Maine’s political delegation may be divided over the value of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law that’s generated all the fuss, but they aren’t divided over the bickering over federal spending that’s prompted the first federal government shutdown in 17 years.

Both Democratic Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree – predictably – opposed House Republican efforts to attach policy riders to the bill sent over from the Senate that would have funded government for a temporary period.

“The politicking needs to end,” Michaud said in a statement. “Congress needs to pass a [continuing resolution] to avoid a government shutdown. There’s not much time left and I’m hoping cooler heads prevail.”

Pingree more openly defended the health care law conservative Republicans are trying to thwart and condemned some of her colleagues as “extreme.”

“It is outrageous that the Republican obsession with weakening the Affordable Care Act has now led to a government shutdown,” she said in a statement. “I’m hopeful than a compromise can be reached quickly, but for now an extreme group of Tea Party Republicans has made good on their pledge to shut down the government in an attempt to undermine the health care reform law.”

Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, used the bickering to highlight his campaign theme of compromise, though it’s clear no one from any side of the aisle seems to be listening.

“Mainers and Americans are tired of the political brinkmanship that plagues Congress and prevents it from doing the work of the country,” he said in a release. “The fact remains that I’m willing to look at ways in which we can improve the Affordable Care Act, but I’m absolutely unwilling to do it under the threat of a dangerous and unnecessary shutdown. To do such would set a dangerous precedent for future negotiations and, I believe, is anathema to governing.”

Sen. Susan Collins, the state’s only Republican member of the delegation, warned against a shutdown Sunday, ahead of the final, frantic and ultimately fruitless manuevering.

“I voted against Obamacare and have repeatedly voted to repeal, reform and replace it, but I disagree with the strategy of linking Obamacare with the continuing functioning of government-a strategy that cannot possibly work,” she said in a statement.

The moderate Republican up for re-election in 2014 pled with Obama and House Republicans to sit down and “negotiate at least a stopgap funding measure to avoid a disruption in many vital programs on which our citizens rely.”

But as of Tuesday morning, it remained unclear what the path forward will be. Neither side seems willing or able to compromise, despite growing frustration with moderate lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.

With polling showing most Americans united against a shutdown and pre-dominately laying the blame on Republicans, Democrats have no incentive to cut a deal. And House Speaker John Boehner remains hamstrung by a core of tea party conservatives who refuse to walk away with anything less than a blow to Obamacare.

Rebekah Metzler

About Rebekah Metzler

Rebekah Metzler is a political writer with U.S. News and World Report, who hails from the state of Maine where she covered state politics for the Lewiston Sun Journal and MaineToday Media. She spent much of 2012 covering the presidential campaign and particularly enjoyed her time on the road in states like Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Ohio and Ohio. Metzler earned her master’s degree in journalism from Boston University and is a Bowdoin College grad.