Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Collins Inches Closer

Just about ready to get on the Trump train.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

You Can't Make It Up

One-time Financial Planning Association lobbyist Phillips Hinch has joined the staff of Sen. Susan Collins as a senior policy adviser.

According to his "revolving door profile" at OpenSecrets.org, Hinch was lobbying less than four years ago--on issues like finance, retirement and taxes.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Game, Set, Match

Sen. Susan Collins on the prospect of Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination:

"I don't think his nomination would be catastrophic."

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Too Little Too Late?

ThinkProgress has a deep dive on the biomass amendment Sen. Susan Collins proposed earlier this week:

Environmentalists around the country are now incensed over an approved amendment categorizing bioenergy as carbon neutral--a move that groups say puts forests and even portions of the Clean Power Plan at risk.

"I think it's a very dangerous amendment," said Kevin Bundy, senior attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, in an interview with ThinkProgress. "It tries to dictate that burning forests for energy won't affect the climate, that's what the term carbon neutral is supposed to mean and that's just not true. You can't legislate away basic physics."

[...]

Environmentalists say the amendment sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) interferes with the EPA's efforts, as it explicitly tells agencies to adopt policies that reflect the carbon neutrality of forests' bioenergy. They also argue that it may incentivize cutting forests for energy and most importantly, undo important provisions of the Clean Power Plan that call for reductions in carbon emissions from the electricity sector through increased use of renewable sources.

Some key questions: Why was the green community caught off guard here? How on earth did this thing pass on a voice vote?

And why aren't environmental organizations that endorsed Collins (like League of Conservation Voters) and those that didn't (like Sierra Club) raising a bigger ruckus in social media and elsewhere to try to head the amendment off before it becomes law?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

No Roll Call on Collins Amendment

Politico confirms that the Sen. Susan Collins amendment to override EPA scientists about the climate implications of burning wood was indeed adopted--by a voice vote.

How exactly does that happen?

MPBN has also posted a strong article on the issue--the best I've seen from them in a while.

Enviros Blast Collins on Biomass

Still trying to get the facts about the status of the Collins/King effort to undermine the EPA's Clean Power Plan.

Meanwhile, a slew of environmental organizations including League of Conservation Voters, National Resource Defense Council and Sierra Club are out with a strong joint statement blasting the amendment:

The amendment would require that federal policy shall "reflect the carbon neutrality of forest bioenergy." This requirement would result in substantial damage to forests and climate by undermining the scientific process established by the EPA...

Cutting and burning our forests to generate electricity is not "carbon neutral." Per megawatt-hour, wood- burning power plants emit more CO2 than fossil-fueled plants...this amendment would therefore sanction and promote high-carbon sources of energy in federal policy, undermining the gains we are poised to make under the Clean Power Plan, the Paris Accord, and other climate policies.

Moreover, this amendment amounts to legislative interference with what should be a science-based policy...

This amendment is an environmentally damaging and scientifically indefensible approach to biomass policy.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Amnesia Watch

Sinclair Broadcast Group video and text January 26, 2016:

[Sen. Susan Collins] says the recent indictment of the people behind the undercover [anti-Planned Parenthood] video is a, "cautionary lesson" to others on Capitol Hill to wait for all the facts on an issue before passing any legislation.

"It shows that it was premature to move to any kind of elimination of funding for Planned Parenthood...I'm personally very happy that I opposed all the attempts to defund Planned Parenthood."

Portland Press Herald, August 4, 2015:
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins is coming under unusual fire from women’s health groups for supporting a Republican-backed effort to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

[...]

Planned Parenthood has been under intense criticism since anti-abortion activists released secretly recorded video of organization leaders discussing the use of fetal tissue from abortions for research purposes. That has resulted in allegations that Planned Parenthood profits from abortions and prompted a drive by Senate conservatives to strip the organization of its federal funding.

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.