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Maine's Congressional Delegation Praises Deal to Break Stalemate
10/16/2013   Reported By: A.J. Higgins

The Republican-controlled U.S. House is poised to vote on a Senate plan to end the budget stalemate in Washington. Votes in the House and Senate are expected to be taken before tomorrow's deadline for raising the $16.7 trillion debt limit, and would end the 16-day government shutdown. Members of Maine's congressional delegation are praising Senate leadership for advancing a plan that was crafted, in part, at the urging of Maine's own Susan Collins. A.J. Higgins has more.

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News that Republican Speaker John Boehner would permit a House vote in the bipartisan Senate deal was welcomed by members of the U.S. Senate.

'Winston Churchill once famously observed that Americans will always do the right thing - only after they have tried everything else," said Maine independent Sen. Angus King, in a speech on the floor. King told colleagues that many people may have not realized how close the nation came to going over the edge.

"Congress was really looking into the abyss. Congress was really proving that it could not function, and our system could not function, in the divided politics of America today," King said. "It now appears that our leaders have pulled us back from that abyss and given us an opprotunity, - an opportunity, not a guarantee but an opportunity - to continue the discussions that started with this terrible shutdown."

The Senate agreement would raise the debt ceiling until Feb. 7, reopen the government until Jan. 15 and form a budget conference to resolve the automatic spending cuts under sequestration. King credits Maine Sen. Susan Collins for leading a group of six Democrats, seven Republicans and himself to find a way out of the stalemate.

Collins says Senate leaders did not incorporate all elements of the plan that was developed by her working group, but the compromise did form the basis of the current bipartisan proposal.

"I continue to believe that our plan was a great path forward, but I am pleased that it paved the way to what I hope will a solution to the impasse that we have been facing," Collins said, "that has been so unfair to the American people and has hurt so many people."

Second District Democratic Congressman Michael Michaud says he expects the House vote will, at least temporarily, end the divisive stalemate that has shaken Americans' faith in their political process.

"This brinksmanship is very unfortunate," he says. "There are a small minority of my colleagues who, basically, have threatened the future, when you look at businesses investing in businesses, and here in the United States, they need stability."

Whether there will be a political price to be paid by members of Congress for stopping the government in its tracks remains to be seen, says 1st District Democrat Chellie Pingree. But she says it's possible that when the next deadline arrives in January, Congress may have already forgotten the value of compromise.

"But I think the message has been out there loud and clear," she says. "I certainly heard from constituents who just are so frustrated with Congress and I often have to just say, 'I agree,'" Pingree says. "I really get frustrated with this constant state of crisis and inability to get real work done. So here's hoping that tonight is our last useless vote, and by next week we're back at work on the issues that are in front of us, and we keep our noses to the grindstone and stick to our work."

Members of the Senate are expected to vote first on the crompromise bill.


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