“The challenges before us are too great and the stakes too high to allow partisan differences to keep us from finding common ground— and I hope that in a small way I may be able to act as a bridge between the parties, an honest broker to help nudge us toward solutions,” said Senator Elect Angus King.
The Presidents Party now holds 53 seats in the chamber and the two Independents, Sen. Bernie Sanders and King will caucus with them. By joining the Democratic caucus King will be assigned committee positions. If he did not affiliate himself with one or the other political parties he would not be able to work on a committee, and most likely would loose respect of his colleagues.
“I have decided to affiliate with the Democratic caucus because doing so will allow me to take independent positions on issues as they arise and at the same time be an effective representative of the people of Maine,” King. “By associating myself with one side, I am not in automatic opposition to the other.”
His choice gives hope to other Democratic Senators who are looking to reform the Filibuster rule that has disenfranchised the majority in the Senate chamber. Because of the Filibuster rule it takes 60 votes to pass important legislation, instead of a simple majority of over 50.
King consulted Sen. Sanders and Sen. Joe Lieberman, who is not returning to the Senate, before making his decision.
“Both confirmed that the Democratic caucus generally and its leadership in particular had consistently allowed them to maintain their independent positions and had never forced positions upon them in the name of party loyalty,” said King.
King also sought out the advise of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and a former Senate Majority Leader, George Mitchell.
“I came away from these conversations reassured that my independence would be respected and no party line commitment would be required or expected,” said the freshman elect Senator.