Senator Angus King announced today he'll continue to caucus with the Democrats.
He released a statement today saying he believes it will be best for the people of Maine if the state has a senator working with both parties.
He also believes it's a good way to help resist partisan politics and move lawmakers closer to the center in order to get the work done.
King maintains that it does not mean he has promised to support the democratic position on the issues and that he maintains his right to make independent decisions.
The following is a press release issued today by the senator concerning his decision.
King Remarks on Decision to Caucus with the Democrats
BRUNSWICK, ME – The following are U.S. Senator Angus King’s (I-Maine) remarks, as prepared, on his decision to remain in the Democratic Caucus:
“Over and over in the past several months, particularly after casting votes with the Republicans, I have been asked if I would consider switching caucuses if the Republicans took the majority in the Senate.
“My immediate response was simple and sums up how I approach any issue – ‘I’ll make that decision at the time, based upon what I think is best for Maine.’
“Well, that time has come, and after a great deal of thought and conversation, including with Senators whom I respect from both parties, I have decided to remain in the Democratic caucus. Before outlining the background of this decision and why I think it makes the most sense for Maine, I want to point out what ‘caucusing’ is not.
“It does not mean that I have become a Democrat, and in any way – official or unofficial, joined the Democratic Party;
“It does not mean that I have given up my right to make independent decisions on bills, amendments, or presidential policies, just as I have over the last two years;
“And it does not mean that I have made a promise to support the Democratic position on any particular issue which may come before the Senate.
“What it does mean is that I will have lunch with the Democrats on Tuesdays and participate in their internal consideration of questions on the Senate agenda. Sometimes, I will agree with their caucus position, sometimes not, just as has been the case over the past two years.
“A fair question at the outset is whether being in the majority caucus isn’t reason enough in itself to make the switch. After all, the majority sets the agenda and is in control of the Senate floor. “This is not insignificant and certainly weighed heavily in my decision. But I think there are other considerations – particularly as they relate to Maine – that offset this argument.
“First, I think it is in Maine’s interest to have a Senator in each camp. The reality of the current Senate – whether the Democrats or the Republicans are in control—is that nothing can or will happen without bi-partisan support. A recent example was a small but important amendment which Susan Collins and I were successful in getting into the defense bill because we could work both sides of the aisle – and make clear that this was not a partisan issue, one way or the other.
“The relationship that Susan and I have – and our ability to work in both caucuses on behalf of Maine – is, I believe, one of the most valuable assets Maine has in today’s Senate. We would still undoubtedly work together, but being able to work with both sides is a real advantage, again, remembering that it will take votes from both caucuses to get anything done; that’s just the math.
“Secondly, I think it is an advantage to have one of our senators in the caucus of the president. A great deal of what we do in Washington involves working with the administration on regulatory matters or executive decisions which can and do have a direct and significant impact on Maine. To change my alignment to a caucus which currently appears openly hostile to the president would give up the important advantage my engagement in the Democratic caucus carries with it.
“Third, I can’t ignore how I, and Maine, have been treated in the Democratic caucus over the past two years. I was given committee assignments important to Maine, particularly on the Armed Services Committee and it’s Sea Power Subcommittee (and was reminded of how important this is just this morning at BIW as we toured the Yard with the Navy’s top admiral). My independence has always been respected, I was not pressured to vote the party line, and I was listened to and actively consulted as caucus positions were developed.
“And finally, I think I have a role to play which is similar to that played by Susan in the Republican caucus—to pull my colleagues toward the center. One of the real problems with modern American politics—and the Congress—is polarization; both sides need problem-solvers who are more interested in getting things done than scoring ideological or political points.
“Susan Collins has taught us all how effective a centrist can be in the Senate minority by building bridges; I only hope to do the same.
“Much has been made in the past twenty-four hours about the meaning and message of these elections. There are as many ideas as there are commentators on the air, but I think one thing that’s absolutely clear that people want us to get to work, to talk to each other, to find solutions to problems, and reignite the sense of hope and optimism that has always been a huge part of who we are as Americans.
“That’s what’s best for Maine—and that’s what’s best for the country; that’s what I’ve done; that’s what I intend to do. In the end, who I caucus with is less important than who I work with – every day, in committee, on the senate floor, in the hallways, and here at home.
A former college student has pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges.
23 year old Akeem Harris entered the plea this morning in Bangor in connection to a deadly stabbing.
Officials say Harris was originally charged with murder following the altercation at the Birch Circle Apartments on Ohio Street in April.
That's where 30 year old Thomas Taylor was stabbed in the chest and later died at a local hospital.
Harris, originally fromNew York, was a college student at Eastern Maine Community College when the stabbing took place.
Prosecutors are recommending that he serve 12 years of an 18 year sentence.
He'll receive his sentence sometime after the first of the year.
State Police have identified a construction worker who was killed yesterday on the Maine Turnpike. They say it was 50 year old James Woodward of Westbrook who died after a dump truck backed over him. It happened at a construction site on the York River Bridge around 11:30 a.m. The driver of the truck was 53 year old Garry Johnson of Hollis. Both worked for Shaw Brothers, which is doing work on the bridge.