Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Not Sure

John Richardson, August 27, 2012:

Snowe and Collins are pro-choice and among the most moderate Republicans in Congress.

Mario Moretto, October 3, 2014:

Collins, like Bellows, is pro-choice.

Kevin Miller, October 12, 2014:

Collins is regarded as a reliable pro-choice vote in an increasingly right-leaning Republican Party.

Scott Thistle, August 5, 2015:

Collins isn’t up for reelection for five years, why alienate one of the only pro-choice Republican votes in the Senate?

Politico, September 21, 2015:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has teed up a procedural vote for Tuesday morning on the 20-week abortion ban...Among Republicans, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said Thursday that she’s not sure how she will vote.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Collins and the Rule of Law

Few noticed this past week when Sen. Susan Collins signed onto an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) sponsored by Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) that would explicitly ban the indefinite detention of American citizens and permanent US residents.

It's a laudable provision, albeit one that the Constitution (and the Supreme Court's ruling in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld) should have rendered superfluous. That such an amendment is now being offered speaks volumes about both the country's illiberal drift in the period after September 11, 2001 and the resurgence of respect for due process and other legal norms in recent years.

The decision of Collins, a reputed moderate and pragmatist, to join a group looking to bolster basic legal protection might seem unsurprising. But in the context of her actual record over the last fourteen years, it's actually a flabbergasting development.

That's because the senior senator was very much part of the team that helped undermine those legal protections in the first place: Remaining silent during the Bush years as that administration made torture, domestic spying and yes, indefinite detention, cornerstones of its "security" policy--before then voting to forgive these crimes--Collins was every bit the enabler of the nation's drift toward a Bill of Rights-shredding 'emergency law' framework.

Specifically, she played a key role in exempting intelligence officers from a torture ban; voted to allow indefinite detention (while shielding torturers from legal consequences); and backed legal immunity for telecoms that broke the law by helping the government spy on their customers.

And then in 2010 she jumped the shark, actively seeking out the spotlight to spread fear about the dangers of adhering to Western legal norms. Along the way she suggested falsely that the Constitution doesn't apply to non-citizens; criticized the Obama administration for not suspending habeas corpus for terrorism suspects; argued that the Cheney approach had not gone far enough in curtailing civil liberties; and embraced the indefinite, years-long, extralegal detention of Jose Padilla--an American citizen held without charges after being seized on American soil.

In short, Collins's journey from foil for those looking to uphold 800-year-old legal precepts to defender of those precepts raises serious questions.

Among them: How does a mature adult--let alone a seasoned pol--lurch back and forth between respect for the rule of law and utter contempt for it? And what does it say about the American media and the rest of us that such a shift garners so little public attention?

The second question is probably the more significant. After all, Collins's metamorphosis, whatever drove it, tells us little we didn't already know about the senator's malleability. But the silence with which her ideological contortions have been greeted underscores an unfortunate truth about the inaccountability of beltway elites who strayed from core American values in the post-9/11 period: Enablers of the Bush administration's worst abuses (including Collins) have paid virtually no price for their irresponsibility.

Rather, the officials, pols and pundits who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Bush and Cheney to advance heinous policies have been free to reframe their views and massage their records with more or less total impunity. Rarely do these people--many of whom continue to occupy positions of power and influence--face so much as a polite question about their previous support for the programs they are now inclined to distance themselves from.

That's a real problem in a democratic republic that depends on elected officials being accountable to an informed citizenry.

It suggests that we've learned little as a country from our decade-long dalliance with the dark side and that we're not prepared to take even simple, obvious steps to avoid winding up in exactly the same place again.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Paraphrase of the Day

Okay then.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins said she wouldn't have personally written the Republican budget, but it does balance the budget over time.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Revolving Door Watch

The Hill:

Senate GOP veteran Rob Epplin has launched his own lobbying and consulting firm.


The firm Epplin Strategic Planning was born, Epplin says, mostly "to answer the question: ‘Can I do this on my own?'"

In his first weeks, he registered the Human Rights Campaign and the National Association of Broadcasters--two clients he worked with at Gephardt Government Affairs.

After retiring from Capitol Hill in 2012, Epplin faced a “cooling off” period--required by ethics laws--in which he could not lobby his former colleagues. During this time, he and Gephardt traveled and met potential clients.


Epplin served as a legislative director for Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) for three years and worked in several policy areas including appropriations, defense, tax and financial issues.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Quote of the Day

Sen. Susan Collins:

"It did not seem to me to be appropriate for us to be writing the ayatollah at this critical time during the negotiations."

Monday, March 9, 2015

Quote of the Day

Sen. Susan Collins on the prospects for immigration reform in the current session of Congress:

At this point, we have a lot of other issues to do.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Collins Feared Sexual Assault In Senate

A stunning anecdote from Sen. Susan Collins via Politico:

So notoriously predatory was [Former Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-SC] that when Susan Collins came to the Senate in 1997, she was warned to avoid getting on an elevator alone with him.

A Republican from Maine, Collins describes publicly for the first time being headed for the senators-only elevator and seeing Thurmond walking in the same direction. She did a U-turn and took the stairs. "The reason I remember the incident so well is because it was observed by one of my Republican male colleagues," recalls Collins. He "started laughing because he knew exactly why I was turning around and not getting on the elevator."

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Home Team

Sen. Susan Collins didn't just oppose the Vivek Murthy nomination this week. She also voted against confirming an Obama judicial nominee, a deputy secretary and an assistant secretary.

And that's in addition to a bunch of nominees she voted against earlier in the month, including a Consumer Product Safety Commission commissioner and the General Counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

All were confirmed.

It could be that all of the above nominees were unqualified or ideologically extreme--based on standards that Collins has applied consistently throughout her tenure in the Senate.

It could be, in other words, that Maine's senior senator, who boasted of her non-ideological approach throughout the her recent campaign, voted the merits without regard to party, her views of the President or her desire to thwart his administration.

But when you consider Collins's past willingness to back even the most extreme and least competent of President Bush's nominees...let's just say it seems unlikely.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mum on Murthy?

So far no statement from Sen. Susan Collins on her vote against the nomination of Vivek Murthy for Surgeon General.

Prior to announcing her decision, Collins spoke to Politico about Murthy, a Harvard and Yale-trained physician who had been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the American Cancer Society. But nothing since.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Collins Roll-Back Makes Budget Bill

Insurance Journal:

Congress is poised to roll back safety rules aimed at ensuring truck drivers get enough rest, ignoring the pleas of consumer activists and U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The provision, added to budget legislation to fund the U.S. government through the fiscal year, would temporarily suspend rules that took effect last year while a study is conducted about the number of trucks driven on congested roads. Under the change, truckers would be able to work as many as 82 hours a week.

Streetsblog has a good roundup here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Quote of the Day

Joan Claybrook:

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is playing Santa Claus for the trucking industry this Christmas, but the American driving public will be paying the bill with lives forever lost and horrific injuries.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Smackdown Watch

Huffington Post:

Some senators didn't want to talk about the issue at all. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) stared blankly at HuffPost when asked if he wanted to keep filibuster reform, before slipping into an elevator and disappearing. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she had thoughts on the matter, but didn't want to share them.

"Who do you work for?" Collins asked, as this HuffPost reporter identified herself. "That's what I thought," she replied, turning and walking away.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Collins Has NSA's Back

Splitting with her colleague Angus King, Sen. Susan Collins voted yesterday to block a bill that would have ended the National Security Agency's indiscriminate, bulk collection of the phone records of Americans.

Collins's remarks begin at 20:50.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Quote of the Day

Sen. Susan Collins:

Why would we weaken the ability of our intelligence community at a time when the threats against this country have never been greater?