Clockwise from top left, Chellie Pingree, Jared Golden, Susan Collins and Angus King. Credit: Composite photo / BDN and AP

Good morning from Augusta. There are nine days until President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “She’s a part of this great American ethos that’s almost entirely gone,” historian Jon Meacham told The New York Times of Nancy Bush Ellis, the sister of former President George H.W. Bush and a part-time Kennebunkport resident who died Sunday at 94. “She was the best kind of aristocrat. There was a sense of service without a shred of snobbery.”

What we’re watching today

Most of Maine’s delegation has remained quiet as House Democrats, and a handful of Republicans, move forward in removing the president from office. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Rep. Jared Golden have not said whether they support impeaching or removing President Donald Trump, days after a large group of the Republican president’s supporters stormed the Capitol, leaving five people dead.

House Democrats are likely to vote today on a resolution asking Trump’s Cabinet to remove him via the 25th Amendment, and could proceed with impeachment tomorrow in the likely event that the president’s Cabinet does not remove him. A handful of Republicans, including Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania have called for his ouster, with Toomey saying he believed the president had committed an impeachable offense.

Among Maine’s delegation, only U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from the 1st District, has backed articles of impeachment. King’s predecessor, former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, joined the ranks of Republicans calling for Trump to resign this weekend, alongside her former colleague Bill Cohen of Maine. 

Collins, King and Golden have all been critical of Trump’s conduct in the lead-up to Wednesday’s riot, but have stopped short of calling for his removal from office. In an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday, King singled out two Republican senatorsTed Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri — saying their efforts to object to election results were “profoundly unpatriotic.”

Several factors are at play, including an impeachment trial in the Senate which could stretch into the first weeks of Biden’s term. If Trump was impeached after he had left office, he would lose his government pension and could be banned from running again, among other consequences. Democrats have floated waiting several weeks before sending impeachment articles to the Senate to allow Biden to pursue his early agenda.

The Maine politics top 3

— “Janet Mills releases $8.4B budget holding spending mostly flat through mid-2023,” Caitlin Andrews, Bangor Daily News: “The budget proposal will drive the conversation in Augusta through much of the year as Maine tries to navigate increasing case counts and an uncertain economic future. Minority Republicans in the Legislature signaled relief that [Gov. Janet] Mills was largely holding the line on spending, but they have been skeptical that the budget will hold without cuts.”

Top legislative Democrats are expected to unveil a bill today providing a “patient bill of rights” for COVID-19 patients. Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, and Maine House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, will speak at 11 a.m. on a measure aimed at ensuring residents get proper care to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus. It will be LD 1, or the first bill introduced of the session traditionally indicating an immediate priority for legislative leaders. The press conferences will be streamed on both members’ Facebook pages.

— “Many still-struggling Maine businesses expected to ask for 2nd federal relief loan,” Lori Valigra, BDN: “Need has only increased for most businesses since the summer. More than 44 percent of Maine small businesses saw decreased revenues during the week between Dec. 28 and Jan. 3, a share that was higher than the national average amid a normally slower winter season and nearly double what it was in the second week of August, according to a Census survey.” Here is a guide to the differences between this round and previous ones.

— “Mass closures have left Portland with more empty restaurant spaces,” Troy R. Bennett, BDN: “The latest numbers compiled by the Portland Food Map indicate the inventory of empty, potential restaurant spaces in Portland jumped 26 percent since October. The list includes former restaurant locations, new buildings and vacant units suitable for food service.”

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Caitlin Andrews, Jessica Piper and Michael Shepherd. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, you can sign up to have it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning here.

To reach us, do not reply directly to this newsletter, but contact the political team at mshepherd@bangordailynews.com, candrews@bangordailynews.com or jpiper@bangordailynews.com.

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...