November 24, 2013

Washington Notebook: Mainer was historic foe of filibuster

In 1890, House Speaker Thomas Brackett Reed, a Republican, helped pave the way for the current ‘majority rules’ ethic in the chamber.

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This portrait of Thomas Brackett Reed hangs outside the Speaker’s Lobby just outside the U.S. House chamber.

Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives

“Some of these issues and some of these (tactics) keep popping up throughout our history,” Smock said.

Reed served as House speaker twice for a total of about five years and apparently had ambitions on the White House. He died in 1902 and is buried in Portland’s Evergreen Cemetery. There is a statue of Reed on Portland’s Western Promenade.

Although largely forgotten elsewhere, Reed still watches over the corridors of power in the Capitol. His bust stands outside the House chamber and his portrait hangs prominently – along with other former speakers – in the ornate Speaker’s Lobby just off of the House floor.

Reed appeared to have mixed emotions about the portrait but eventually came to like it.

Comparing it to the others, the affable yet acerbic Mainer reportedly said that when “those pictures ... are dug from the ruins of the Capitol 2,000 years hence ... they will pass by the portraits,” according to an account from the Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives.

But when those future observers “see the features of your humble servant ... (they will) say ‘here is quite a fellow,’ ” Reed said.


The House Republicans of today are hoping Maine’s 2nd District voters will turn that seat red next year as they seek to defend or expand their majority.

Last week, the National Republican Congressional Committee said 2nd District Republican contenders Kevin Raye and Bruce Poliquin were “On the Radar” of the committee. The designation signals that the NRCC could take a greater interest in the race after the June primaries, offering the eventual nominee both logistical support as well as direct and indirect financial assistance.

National Democrats are keeping a cool face about the open seat created by Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud’s decision to run for governor.

The chairman of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee – the NRCC’s campaign counterweight – was dismissive of Republican ambitions in Maine.

“Obama won 54 percent in that district. It is a Democratic district,” Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., said when asked about the race last week. “With Mike (Michaud) at the top of the ticket, Democrats will do very well in that district. So Republicans portraying this district as competitive is wishful thinking, at best.”


Sens. Collins and Amy Klobuchar are calling on Congress to double by 2015 the amount of funding the U.S. provides for research into Alzheimer’s disease.

The Maine Republican and Minnesota Democrat introduced a Senate resolution last week stating that preventing and finding ways to effectively treat Alzheimer’s should be an “urgent national priority” backed up by federal resources. The U.S. currently spends about $500 million a year on Alzheimer’s research, compared to the $142 billion billed to Medicare and Medicaid annually to care for Alzheimer’s patients, according to figures supplied by Collins’ office.

An estimated 37,000 Mainers and 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, figures expected to grow significantly as the baby boomer generation ages. The impact of age-related diseases such as dementia will hit Maine and other New England states particularly hard because of the disproportionately large size of the elderly population here.

“Like many families who have experienced the pain of Alzheimer’s, I know that there is no more helpless feeling than to watch the progression of this devastating disease,” Collins said in a statement. “Alzheimer’s disease is the only cause of death among the top ten in our nation without a way to prevent it, cure it, or even slow its progression.”

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at:


Twitter: @KevinMillerDC

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