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Collins, King split over Republican plan to avoid shutdown

Maine's two senators, Republican Susan Collins and independent Angus King, split their votes on a House Republican deal to avoid a government shutdown.

WASHINGTON, DC (WGME) -- As work continues to end the latest government shutdown, Maine's two senators voted on opposite sides of the budget deal passed by House Republicans.

Collins, a Republican, voted for the short-term deal, while King, an independent, voted against. This mirrors the vote in the house where Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin voted yes and Democrat Rep. Chellie Pingree voted no earlier this week.

The inability to pass a continuing budget resolution by midnight Friday shutdown the government, Negotiations are resuming Saturday, with one of the big areas of disagreement working out a deal on DACA to keep the children of illegal immigrants within the country.

Collins released a long statement on the shutdown early Saturday morning, arguing the need to avoid a shutdown and extending the Children's Health Insurance Program for six years was worth it.

“To prevent a government shutdown that would damage our economy and disrupt health care coverage for low-income children, I voted in support of the stop-gap funding bill," Collins said. “A government shutdown represents the ultimate failure to govern. Regrettably, we went down this road in October 2013, and the consequences of that impasse reverberated across the country. According to Standard & Poor’s, the shutdown cost the economy $1.5 billion per day—a total of $24 billion. This negatively affected the government’s budget through reduced revenues and increased borrowing costs, including $400 million in higher interest charges. And it particularly hurt people in Maine whose livelihoods depended on tourism when Acadia National Park closed due to the shutdown. In October of 2013, I formed the Common Sense Coalition that drafted the plan that led to government reopening."

Collins said she believes dealing with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is imperative, citing a bipartisan effort to make a deal before the March 5 deadline. However, the shutdown does nothing for CHIP or DACA in her point of view.

“The failure to pass this funding bill jeopardizes health care for children covered through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and does absolutely nothing to advance a solution for the Dreamers," she said. "CHIP provides health care coverage to nine million children nationwide, including 22,310 in Maine. CHIP expired on September 30, 2017, and the funding for this critical program is in imminent danger of running out in many states. The deadline to extend CHIP is now. In addition to preventing a government shutdown, the funding bill would have ensured that these nine million children continued to receive health care by renewing and funding CHIP for another six years.

King described the ongoing budget battle as more business as usual.

“For 20 years, Congress hasn’t had a budget on time," he said. "Instead, we’ve opted to kick difficult decisions a little bit further down the road through continuing resolutions, leaving important priorities unfinished. This isn’t what our constituents sent us here to do, and we shouldn’t continue taking half-steps on issues that can be resolved in a bipartisan fashion. Nobody wanted to shut the government down, and we didn’t have to – there was enough middle ground between both sides to reach an agreement if only we’d worked together earlier in the process. Moving forward, I am open to a short-term continuing resolution that allows us to finalize the details of a deal, but first we need the framework of that deal. Now is the time for responsible governing; I hope Congressional leadership will rise to the task.”

Republicans and Democrats in Maine used names as part of their blame game. For Democrats, this is a Trump shutdown. For Republicans, it is the Democrats shutdown.

"Who would be surprised by this?" said Maine Republican Executive Director Jason Savage. "Partisanship and undivided loyalty to Democrat overlords Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer instead of Maine people are the name and game for Angus King and Chellie Pingree. It's what they do. They do not represent us, they work for Washington, D.C. and its power brokers."

Savage said it is "sad" King and Pingree allowed the debate over illegal immigration to prompt their opposition to accepting the short-term budget deal approved in the House.

Maine Democratic Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett also expressed his strong displeasure with Republicans in the House, including Maine Rep. Bruce Poliquin, and Trump.

“Republicans are in control of the House, the Senate, and the Presidency, and yet they still can’t manage to accomplish even the most basic task of governing: keeping the lights on.," Bartlett said.

"This is no way to run a country, and it’s unfair to Maine people who already have enough to worry about without the added anxiety of a dysfunctional government. Mainers deserve better than the failed leadership of President Trump and Bruce Poliquin," he said.

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