In an impassioned speech on the floor of the United States Senate today, U.S. Senator Angus King voiced his belief that the government shutdown should not be used as leverage to negotiate changes to the Affordable Care Act or achieve any other policy objectives that otherwise could not be enacted through the normal legislative process because of the precedent it would set for legislating in the future.
"My intention coming here was to help solve problems, to find common ground, to work together with colleagues from both sides of the aisle. That's my history," Senator King said in his remarks. "But the important thing about this discussion is: it's all taking place in the context of a government shutdown. That's not where negotiations should be made. That's not where negotiation and discussion should be had. This is why, I think in this one case, negotiation really isn't the right course. It's a process problem. It's a practical problem, and I believe it's a constitutional problem."
"This is an attempt to rewrite a major piece of substantive law through holding the government hostage, which is a result that cannot be achieved through the normal democratic and constitutional processes. That's the core of this current situation. That's what's bothering me about it," Senator King said. "I don't mind negotiating budgets. I do think we shouldn't use the threat of a government shutdown -- or, now the reality of a government shutdown, to obtain legislative and policy benefits that we can't otherwise attain through the normal constitutional process."
"I would love to sit down in good faith with people and try to fix them [problems with the Affordable Care Act] but I think the way to do that is not in the context of the government being held hostage. We don't -- and here's the real problem -- if we do it now this will become the normal way we legislate around here." Senator King concluded. "I want to talk. I want to negotiate. I want to solve problems, but not at the expense of this institution, not at the expense of the Constitution, and not at the expense of the American people."