Is It All Up to the King?

Sen. Angus King (I-ME)

So yesterday morning we got into contact with three Senate offices trying to see where everyone was on Roe and Reform. We contacted the offices of Sens. Feinstein, Casey and King. (We also reached out to Sens. Tester and Coons. But in those cases it wasn’t clear we got through the forest of out of office emails and voice mail messages. Congress is currently on recess.) Yesterday afternoon Sen. Feinstein’s office released a statement affirming that she’s ready to suspend the filibuster rules for the Roe bill. Around the same time, Sen. Casey’s office confirmed to Kate Riga that Casey also supported suspending the filibuster rules for a Roe bill. And that leaves us with … hmm? Who’s left? Oh right! Sen. Angus King of Maine, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats. So far no response or clarification on this issue. Crickets.

(We also had a conversation with Sen. Kaine, which we’ll get to in a later post.)

Now, Congress is currently on recess. So members can go to the wind and staffers can have less ability to coordinate positions and so forth. But we’re not talking here about the barley subsidy for a new ag bill. Indeed, this is currently the centerpiece issue in Democratic politics. I don’t think I’m overstating that. Just a short time ago President Biden said explicitly that “we need 2 additional pro-choice senators & a pro-choice House to codify Roe as federal law.” So he’s basically now committed all 48 functional Senate Democrats to Roe and Reform. That includes King.

King was on our list not because he’s particularly conservative or soft on choice. But he’s a senator who’s big into bipartisanship. He was one of the final hold outs on suspending the filibuster rules to pass a voting rights bill. But he did finally come out in support. I suspect he’ll do the same here. But absent total clarity and frankly at some point an explicit pledge noting the date on which this will all happen, it just doesn’t work in electoral terms or repair the broken trust in the tether connecting electoral participation to policy results.

For now, it’s no answer from King.

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