You may have heard that, late last week — and, as usual, at the last possible minute — the U.S. Congress passed a mechanism to continue funding most of the federal government through Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year. Structured as a continuing resolution, this omnibus spending bill was quickly dubbed the Cromnibus.
What you likely didn’t hear was that, at the last minute, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — who will be keeping that job in January, because apparently House Democrats enjoy being in the minority — attempted to scuttle the deal and force a government shutdown at the last possible minute. She was upset over changes to banking regulations that rolled back parts of the Dodd-Frank bill passed after the financial crisis. She was joined in her fury by progressive icon U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, a likely 2016 presidential candidate.
She was also joined by Maine’s two U.S. representatives, Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud. Not only have Michaud and Pingree failed to explain their votes to their employers, the people of Maine, the Maine press has largely failed to mention it. The Bangor Daily News at least mentioned that there was almost a government shutdown in its editorial, but skipped over Pingree and Michaud’s votes.
This was especially striking for Michaud, as this was the last act in Congress of a man who’d spent the better part of a year running around the state trying to convince voters that he was a moderate, bipartisan, pragmatic dealmaker. His vote to shut down the government on the orders of Nancy Pelosi proved that Maine voters were right not to buy into his schtick. Maine voters were smart enough to see that he was, in fact, the blindly partisan loyalist that his final vote shows.
Michaud and Pingree were both willing to put party marching orders above the needs of ordinary Mainers, who stood to be severely affected by a government shutdown at the worst possible time of year. Just before the holiday season, as we head into the dead of winter, a shutdown would have left federal employees without pay and cut off vital benefits for Maine families.
While Michaud and Pingree maintain radio silence over their votes to shut down the federal government, Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins have issued statements on the passage of the bill. While neither of them were likely thrilled with the measure (Collins bemoaned the lack of regular Appropriations bills), both realized the legislation, however flawed, was better than another shutdown.
The fracas over the Cromnibus not only showed that Pingree and Michaud were clearly in Pelosi’s corner, it revealed Pelosi’s ineffectiveness as a leader. Not only did her attempt to undermine the White House and sink the bipartisan deal fail, the rest of her leadership team ignored her efforts and worked with the administration to pass the bill. Her plan was either a spectacular, disastrous failure, or it was a show vote designed merely to remind the White House that she existed and could not be locked out of future negotiations. Either way, it was a mistake, and our U.S. representatives were on the wrong side of it.
The last time the federal government shut down, Michaud was plotting a run for governor, and he said, “The inability to compromise and the unyielding ideology of a few have prevented Congress from fulfilling one of its most basic responsibilities.” Now that he’s a lame duck, he’s reverted to his true colors and joined the ranks of the unyielding, exposing his own hypocrisy in the process.