On the floor of the Senate, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-ME) today praised an announcement by Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell that a bipartisan solution has been brokered between the two leaders that will end the government shutdown, avert a default on the nation's credit, and restart negotiations on a long-term budget.
Senator King was part of a bipartisan group of fourteen senators -- seven Republicans and six Democrats -- that had been negotiating a similar plan that served as a foundation for the one announced by the leaders.
To watch Senator King's remarks, click here.
The transcript of Senator King's remarks, as delivered, are below:
"Winston Churchill once famously observed that Americans will always do the right thing, only after they have tried everything else. I think the last two weeks demonstrates the wisdom of that observation. I want to join my colleagues in congratulating first the leaders for putting aside their substantial differences, their substantial partisan divide, to meet together over the last two or three days and hammer out an agreement that is not going to be acceptable or exciting to anyone but will, in fact, put America back together in terms of our government functioning, avoiding the threat of default, and allowing us to move forward on the nation's problems.
"My first congratulations is to Senator Harry Reid and Senator Mitch McConnell for coming together as they have in the last 24 hours. I also have to really acknowledge the leadership of my senior colleague from Maine, Susan Collins. I happened to be presiding the day that she made her speech last Saturday, and it was really her initiative to stand up and take a risk and say, "Let's try to work something out.' And she outlined a beginning of a framework, which was then fleshed out over the last ten days of discussions among the group that we've been talking about.
"And I was interviewed recently on the radio, and somebody said, "Well, don't you think Senator Collins may be subject to some criticism from some quarter or another about her role in all of this?' And I paused for a minute and I said, "That's what leadership is.' It's the willingness to bear criticism, to stick your neck out. As my Dad used to say it's like the turtle crossing the road. The only way the turtle can cross the road is to stick his neck out. And that's what we're trying to do on behalf of the American people.
"I see that Senator Patty Murray is not on the floor right now, but I am so glad that we are now entering into a process where she and her colleagues on the Budget Committee will be able to work with Congressman Ryan, and try to really solve some of these issues that have been plaguing us so severely. And we're doing it as we should -- in the proper process -- so I'm delighted that Senator Murray is now going to step into this role, which is one of the most important that we've had in recent years, and we'll be able to work toward a resolution.
"This is an important and perhaps historic compromise where Congress was really looking into the abyss, where Congress was really proving that it could not function, and our system could not function in the divided politics of America today. It now appears that our leaders have pulled us back from that abyss and given us an opportunity -- an opportunity, not a guarantee -- but an opportunity to continue the discussions that started with this terrible shutdown, and give us the opportunity to try to bring our country together and to resolve the problems that we face.
"It's a shame that we've spent so much time doing what I think is the obvious: run the government, pay our bills. But now that we seem to have passed through this moment, now we can move forward into the long-term challenges of our budgets, of the challenges facing our people, our ability to solve problems, and prove once again that this wonderful Constitution that has been bequeathed to us can still function, can still produce results, can still govern this country.
"Abraham Lincoln said that we can't escape history. We can't escape history. And this morning the Chaplain's prayer talked about being accountable to history, and that indeed is what we are doing in this body, and I hope that history will judge today as a moment where the beginning of a new era of cooperation and civility and problem-solving -- not the loss of our differences, not the papering over of legitimate arguments of principle -- but at least the ability to try to work together, to talk to each other, to respect one another, to listen to one another, those are the essential qualities of leadership that I believe we're seeing demonstrated here today. And I hope that it is a beginning, and I want to congratulate and thank all my colleagues, but especially the two leaders for getting us to this moment."