Education

Jeffords in His Own Words

May 30, 2001 1 min read
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Here are excerpts from Sen. James M. Jeffords’ remarks in announcing May 24 in Burlington, Vt., that he plans to leave the Republican Party.

MAKING THE BREAK:
“In order to best represent my state of Vermont, my own conscience, and principles I have stood for my whole life, I will leave the Republican Party and become an Independent. Control of the Senate ... will be changed by my decision. I will make this change and will caucus with the Democrats for organizational purposes, once the conference report on the tax bill is sent to the president. I gave my word to the president that I would not intercept or try to intervene in the signing of that bill.”
WHY HE SWITCHED:
“Increasingly, I find myself in disagreement with my party. ... Due to the changing nature of the national party, it has become a struggle for our leaders to deal with me, and for me to deal with them. Indeed, the party’s electoral success has underscored the dilemma that I face within the party. ... We don’t live in a parliamentary system. But it is only natural to believe that people like myself, who have been honored with positions of leadership, will largely support the president’s agenda. And yet, more and more, I find I cannot.”
DIFFERENCES WITH PRESIDENT BUSH:
“Looking ahead, I can see more and more instances where I will disagree with the president on very fundamental issues. Issues of choice, the direction of the judiciary, tax and spending decisions, missile defense, energy, and the environment, and a host of other issues large and small. The largest for me is education.”
ROLE OF WHITE HOUSE SNUBS, PRESSURE IN HIS DECISION:
“Oh, nothing whatsoever. It gets laughable at times. You know, you get upset with it. Like [reported moves against] Vermont, [exclusion from] the national schoolteacher [of the year ceremony], those kinds of things. But that has nothing to do with it.”

A version of this article appeared in the May 30, 2001 edition of Education Week as Jeffords in His Own Words

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