Skip to comments.Stakes high for Senator Collins in coronavirus relief standoff
Posted on 05/25/2020 8:52:19 PM PDT by RandFan
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who faces the toughest reelection campaign of her Senate career, is battling her own party over coronavirus relief funding for local and state governments hit hard by the pandemic.
The Maine senator, in a state where President Trump is expected to lose the presidential vote, has co-sponsored a bill that would set up a $500 billion state and municipal recovery fund.
Collins scored a win during the negotiation of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act by co-authoring one of the bills most popular components, the small-business lending initiative known as the Paycheck Protection Program, to which Congress added another $320 billion last month.
But delivering another round of aid for beleaguered state and local governments, something which Maine desperately needs, is a tough challenge because of opposition from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and many other Senate Republicans.
The pressure in Maine for those resources is huge, said Mark Brewer, a professor of political science at the University of Maine.
He noted that a huge amount of Maines economy is based on consumer spending, tourism and fishing, which have all suffered because of the pandemic. Summer visitors are staying away and there has been a drop-off in demand from restaurants and overseas markets that buy seafood.
If Sen. Collins is going to keep her seat, failure to deliver state and local aid would be a huge problem for her, he said.
By the same token, if Collins can deliver, it could be a boon in her race against state House Speaker Sara Gideon (D).
If she can deliver this in a meaningful way, thats a huge feather in her cap and I think she knows that, said Brewer. It enhances her ability to say, Im still bipartisan. I stood up to the majority leader and I made him come around and was able to work with Democrats. "
Recent polls show Collins and Gideon in a neck and neck race. Gideon has outraised her in the first quarter of 2020 while Collins last month reported an advantage in cash on hand.
Collins on Wednesday delivered an impassioned plea for fiscal relief for her home state, which voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
Working families and communities across the state of Maine have been hit hard. Moodys forecasts that Maine may face one of the worst impacts in the entire country in terms of lost revenues, she said.
Collins noted the bill she has co-sponsored with Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) to provide $500 billion in new assistance to state and local communities would not discriminate against smaller Maine towns, unlike the CARES Act, which does not allow direct federal assistance to go to municipalities of fewer than 500,000 people.
The issue of providing aid to states is a divisive one within the GOP conference, however, and McConnell blocked adding more money for state and local governments in the $484 billion interim coronavirus relief bill that Congress passed in April.
The GOP leader later suggested that Congress should revisit laws that prevent states from declaring bankruptcy, an idea that drew a swift and angry backlash from Democrats.
Collins said Thursday that she has made her views clear to the leader.
Hes aware of my position, she said. Youre missing a big part if youre describing it as just state aid. Its state and local aid."
McConnell often expresses his admiration for Collins and they have a close relationship.
She helped deliver two of McConnells biggest accomplishments as leader by voting to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 and pass the landmark Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 two landmark achievements of President Trumps administration.
After Collins announced her support for Kavanaugh, assuring his confirmation, McConnell praised his colleagues rigorous deliberation ahead of reaching a final decision.
She also stuck with the GOP conference in voting to acquit Trump on two articles of impeachment earlier this year another crucial win for McConnell, who is also up for reelection this year and made it a high priority to keep his conference unified.
The Kavanaugh vote has made Collins into a villain for many Democrats, and helped Gideons fundraising.
Collins on Thursday says she doesnt expect any political favors and asserted her advocacy for more state and local funding is based on entirely on the needs of her home state.
Its not a political issue. Its an issue of trying to help prevent widespread layoffs of firefighters, police officers and schoolteachers. Thats whats motivating this, she said.
Asked about McConnells staunch opposition to another round of state and local funding, she said: Youd have to ask him. I dont know where hes going to end up.
Al Cross, a professor of journalism at the University of Kentucky and a longtime commentator on Kentucky politics, says McConnell likely knows that giving ground in the debate over additional state and local funding could help him keep his majority.
His primary motive is going to be saving Susan Collins and saving his majority, he said. Im sure theres some feeling of gratitude there but with McConnell its all about saving the majority.
Thats one reason I thought hed come through with some more help for state and local. There may be strings attached, there may be conditions but the support for that among governors and local officials is so broad and bipartisan that they just cant do a Ford-to-New-York drop-dead routine, he added.
McConnell on Thursday signaled his opposition to more state and local funding is softening.
He told Fox Newss Martha MacCallum we may later do more.
But he said Congress needs to let the $150 billion appropriated in the CARES Act for local governments fully kick in and then look at the impact of the states beginning to open up.
Then we can make an intelligent decision about the size and the appropriate package to put together, he said.
And just why is this state in such a mess?
Just bail out all the fricking states and everybody’s debt in exchange for completely and simultaneously abolishing all federal bureaucracies, programs, and departments not under the military or post office. If we’re going to have a stupid bailout then just go for the whole shebang.
I just want her to keep the seat. We are in serious danger of losing the senate. I know you dont believe that just like you jumped up and down all 2018 saying wed add seats to the house. Frustrating that you got so many thinking you were right. I happen to live in a reality based world where Collins is not perfect but shes a number to keep for majority and committees.
The cost of a Senate seat is 500 billion? Jeez..
They want bailouts NO more funding in ANY of these states for illegals, NO more medical, housing vouchers, or food cards for illegals!! NO more education in our schools for illegals AND NO more sanctuary status in any states that take a bailout DONE!!!
I think we can GAIN John James and DUMP Collins, Michigan is a mess John James has a real shot if the RINOS will fund him!!
Would be nice if she had some conservative challenge in a primary.
I don’t despise her, BUT she really bothers me.
Nonsense. The so called “pandemic” hasn't done sh*t. It's the deliberate, totally unnecessary economy ruining lockdowns that have destroyed the economy.
Lockdowns should have been ended over a month ago. End the lockdowns NOW, then you don't have to beg for bailouts every darn week.
#8. Collins is NOT reliable. She is out for herself. Perhaps being “out” of a job would teach her a karma lesson.
After all, she is a Karma Chameleon. At least Boy George is open about who he is.
Why hasn’t Collins been primaried yet?
Because no one in that state can take her on.
I like LePage he was a Republican governor there because the left split the vote with an independent candidate and he won!
But what conservative Republican would be willing to move to Maine?
Summer visitors are staying away and there has been a drop-off in demand from restaurants and overseas markets that buy seafood.
-- And just why is this state in such a mess? --
Democrat Governor Janet Mills has imposed a 14 day quarantine on people arriving from out of the state. The usual outdoors tourist activites are orded closed to out-of-staters. "Vactionaland" is now just for us natives!
And the natives are some kind of unhappy with all of this nonsense from the governor. About 80 dead by the WuFlu. An average influenza season takes 250.
GOP in this state is a globalists-only club.
There are quite a few here. We're just outnumbered by the moonbats from Mass, NY, CT.
The economy crashed, 20% are unemployed, and state tax revenues are way down would be my guess.
That would be great, but what seats can replace Arizona, Montana, Colorado, Georgia (at least one seat)?????
Losing Maine is a consequence of moving Somalians in the state
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