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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Snowe calls for bipartisan Senate

Former senator in first speech after resignation thinks progress is possible

Former Sen. Olympia Snowe spoke at the University Club on Feb. 25 for the first time since leaving office. Much of her speech was focused on the divisions in Congress today and the dangers of uncertainty in legislature.

"[I felt like a] cast member on Survivor, getting multiple challenges and no longer feeling like you're wanted in the tribe," Snowe, R-Maine, said in the speech.

Snowe surprised many last February when she announced that she would not seek another term in what would have been her 15th election, ending a 35-year career in public service that included seats in state government, the Senate and the House of Representatives.

While offering plenty of criticism in the speech, Snowe ultimately underlined the potential of the national legislature.

"The United States Senate is a political incubator for results," she said.

The Kennedy Political Union and the AU College Republicans co-sponsored the event.

Another theme of the speech was the loss of leaders who were more engaged in making compromises. Snowe specifically mentioned the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.

"He was called the 'Liberal Lion' of the Senate," she said in the speech, "but he also understood how to advance the public policy process."

Snowe now seeks to build a more cooperative spirit in Congress through her work at the Bipartisan Policy Center and her own campaign called "Olympia"s List," she said in an interview with the Eagle. Snowe also said she thought working independent of the government would prove a more productive option.

Today's Congress is marked with the gridlock that prompted her retirement last year, exemplified by the highest level of polarization since the end of Reconstruction 135 years ago, according to Snowe.

The former senator also discussed the possible upcoming sequester, the automatic spending cuts that will come into effect on March 1 if no alternate decisions are made before then. Snowe remarked that political gridlock may harm chances of compromise.

"Both sides might decide it's in their best interest not to come to an agreement, which is unfortunate," Snowe said.

cjohnson@theeagleonline.com


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