Friday, December 13, 2013
By OLYMPIA J. SNOWE
I was confounded by your editorial of Nov. 7th ("Now in the Senate, King should expand his vision") stating that Senator-elect Angus King should "provide a vision for the country that goes beyond fixing the process of the U.S. Senate and say how he is going to address the problems of the nation."
The point the editorial misses is that, as long as the dysfunction persists in our politically divided government, we will never solve the challenges confronting America -- because there is no mechanism by which we can come together to forge consensus or find common ground.
To gloss over the imperative of repairing the Senate is to ignore the ineffectiveness and miniaturization of what is supposed to be the world's greatest deliberative body that has resulted from the current dysfunction.
In the 112th Congress, we're on pace to pass the fewest number of laws since 1947. The Senate has failed to pass a budget in either this Congress or the last.
And why is that? In large part because the norms and procedures of the Senate are being perverted in a quest to defeat the opposing party, rather than employing a process that brings the various sides together to solve problems.
When each party's position fails, no effort is made to identify a mutually acceptable alternative.
Rather, each side issues sound bites to embarrass the other party and create 30-second ads for the next election -- leaving the problem unresolved.
But with the rules of the United States Senate, essentially 60 votes are required to pass legislation.
This means that moving past our differences and engaging in compromise is a necessity if we are to secure results.
That's the kind of collaborative spirit that Washington is lacking, and that is a prerequisite if we are to "address the problems of this nation."
Sen. Olympia J. Snowe of Falmouth is retiring after three terms in the U.S. Senate.