Rep. Chellie Pingree participates in a “sit in” in Congress in 2016. Photo courtesy Congresswoman Chellie Pingree Facebook page.
WASHINGTON D.C. – While lawmakers on both sides of the aisle worked to find common ground to end the shutdown of the federal government, Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s First Congressional District was preparing to cast another vote to prolong the shutdown, which had been criticized by lawmakers of both sides.
When the time came to cast that vote, Rep. Pingree stepped away from the positions of Senator Susan Collins, Senator Angus King and Rep. Bruce Poliquin, all voting to end the shutdown, and joined a coalition of House Democrats voting against restarting the government.
Pingree had been mostly silent on the topic leading into the original vote on a Continuing Resolution to fund the government, but released a video on social media yesterday attacking Republicans for not passing a long-term spending bill and the need to pass legislation to protect immigrants who were brought to the United States through unlawful methods as young children.
In the video, Pingree glossed over the numbers in her attack on Republicans, not mentioning that in order to pass a long term spending bill, Republicans would need a significant number of Democrat votes, which they have so far been unable to attain.
The Continuing Resolution that passed over Pingree’s objection restarts the federal government with a new a six-year funding provision for CHIP, a program that provides health care to young children, which is one of the provisions members of Congress in both parties had pushed for months to ensure, but does not include provisions for “Dreamers”, who are young people brought to the United States when their parents entered the country without permission.
Senator Angus King split from Senator Susan Collins on the original vote to keep the government open last week, but came around to join her on the most recent vote after participating in a series of meetings designed to find common ground and find a solution.
Senator Collins has earned national media attention for those meetings in part because of her employment of a “talking stick” to improve dialogue in the debates. Some news outlets reported that at one point the talking stick was thrown across the room, chipping a glass elephant in Senator Collins’ office.
The deal made by Congressional leaders of both parties includes a promise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to address DACA, the immigration issue Pingree has focused on in her statements. Republicans had said they couldn’t pass a DACA fix in the current legislation because they did not have a bill to attach to the legislation. That promise was not enough to win Pingree’s support.
Ultimately, both the Senate and House overcame objections from Democratic lawmakers insisting on the immigration bill as part of the deal to end the shutdown and funding the government into early February.
Some Democrats who voted to restart the government have come under fire from liberal activist groups and non-profits that want to make the immigration issue a top priority. Republicans had countered that narrative by pointing out that Democrats who would shut down the government over DACA were putting the needs of one group of non-citizens ahead of the needs of all Americans.