King stuck in between two bananas — an accurate metaphor for his upcoming Senate term? (AP Photo)
According to the latest reports, Independent Senator elect Angus King appears likely to caucus with Senate Democrats, giving Harry Reid’s bunch a 55-45 advantage in the upper chamber. King “hasn’t made up his mind yet…” (Ed note: sure…), but we’ll likely know which way he chooses to go by Thanksgiving:
“My intention is to make that decision probably this week and to announce it,” King said in the hallways of the U.S. Senate while visiting for new member orientation today, “But the important thing is, whichever decision I make, I don’t consider that building a wall between myself and the other party.”
Barring filibuster reform and the current 60 vote barrier in the Senate, King’s allegiance to either party really only matters in terms of favorable committee assignments. In a perfect world, Democrats (or Republicans) would place King on the Budget committee where he could dish out some sorely needed moderation while Barack Obama and Congressional GOP leaders continue to do partisan battle of the next two years. Unfortunately, it’s more likely he’ll end up somewhere else, but don’t count out King’s skills as a negotiator and the leverage he holds as a “free agent” in getting the assignment he wants. Just imagine if Republicans had won narrow Senate races in North Dakota and Montana, and Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock had kept their traps shut on abortion… an actual Kingmaker scenario could have emerged.
No matter what role Angus King ultimately ends up playing in the Senate, a true moderate independent or an IINO, he’s already demonstrated that he’s got good ideas, such as a compromise on the sunset of the Bush Era Tax Cuts. King wants to kill the filibuster too? Independents, don’t be too soon to swoon, but all signs are pointing towards King representing a new push for moderation, compromise, and actual legislative solutions in Congress — and that’s a cause for celebration among America’s (and Maine’s) independent voters.