Maine's Two U.S. Senators Express Support For Budget Deal

Feb 9, 2018

Maine's two U.S. senators say the two-year budget deal reached Wednesday is a big step in the right direction.

Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, says the deal struck by Senate leaders and President Trump will increase both defense spending and funding for domestic programs over two years.

She says the agreement sets spending caps while avoiding the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.  “It’s a significant agreement because it would do away with the threat of sequestration, that arbitrary across-the-board cuts of federal programs."

Maine's other U.S. senator, Angus King, is also expressing support for the deal.  “This agreement is great news for bipartisanship and contains many important provisions for Maine, including a reauthorization of community health centers that provide quality care to more than 200,000 Maine people, additional funding to fight the opioid epidemic and infrastructure funds that can be used to improve rural broadband access," King says, in a statement released Wednesday evening.

But King, an independent, says there's a big problem with the agreement - it doesn't address the looming $1 trillion deficit the recently enacted Republican-led tax plan is expected to create.

"If we continue at this rate, we will be passing along a tremendous amount of debt to future generations," King writes. "That’s not the legacy I want to leave for my children and grandchildren. Now that we’ve reached a bipartisan budget deal, I hope we can harness this momentum to get serious about putting our fiscal house in order.”

And Collins is worried about support for the deal in the House, even though Republican Speaker Paul Ryan has endorsed the plan. That’s because Democratic leaders are demanding action on immigration legislation.

Collins says it would be a mistake for House Democrats to reject the package and force a partial shutdown of the federal government.  She says it's absolutely imperative that another government shutdown is avoided, no matter how brief the duration.

This story was originally published Feb. 7, 2018 at 5:48 p.m. ET. It was updated Feb. 8, 2018 at 5:55 a.m. ET.