Friday, March 30, 2007

Flashback: $87 Billion

November 4, 2003:

The Senate yesterday sent President Bush an $87.5 billion spending package for Iraq and Afghanistan, capping a month of tumultuous debate in Congress over how much of a burden to place on American taxpayers for Iraq's reconstruction.


"Despite my reservations, I believe that this package will pave the way to the day when our soldiers finally come home from Iraq," Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) said in a sentiment echoed by many.
--Philadelphia Inquirer

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Dudley Reacts

Via KayinMaine over at Turning Maine Blue we get Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Dudley's response to Collins' vote on the Cochran amendment:

Dudley today called on Senator Susan Collins to explain her statement following yesterday's vote in the Senate when she supported an amendment to remove a timetable to end American involvement in the Iraqi civil war.


"It seems that Senator Collins is reading from the President's talking points," said Dudley. "But Maine needs a leader who will stand up and tell the President that it's time for a new direction that will end the War in Iraq."

"Senator Collins voted to go to war in 2002, and despite what she may say when she's home in Maine, Collins has consistently supported the President's failed policies in Iraq," Dudley said. "In Maine she says she is an independent voice, but when George Bush needs her vote to stay the course in Iraq, she's with him, not the vast majority of Maine people who want our Armed Forces to come home from Iraq and return safely to their families."
The Cochran amendment vote is destined to be a central issue in the 2008 race.

If Collins is figuring otherwise, she's miscalculated.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Class Warfare

Via Maine Democrats we learn that Sen. Collins voted with her Republican colleagues to strip troop withdrawal language from the Senate appropration's bill. (Their attempt failed.)

Still haven't been able to find a statement from Collins explaining her vote. The lead item on her website, in fact, concerns her recent meeting with Sumner Memorial High School students enrolled in teacher Vern Campbell's Social Studies class.


UPDATE: The New York Times quotes the junior senator this way:

Ms. Collins said she was more troubled by the requirement that the administration begin removing troops within 120 days of the legislation rather than the March 2008 deadline for having most of the military out.

"I don't think it is wise to have an abrupt withdrawal from Iraq," said Ms. Collins, who said she was willing to wait until August to see if the continuing troop increase improves conditions there. "This doesn’t mean I support an unending commitment of our troops in Iraq. I don’t."
Not clear why she thinks beginning to redeploy troops in 120 days counts as an "abrupt withdrawal" while moving most of the military out by March 2008 is sound policy.

Presumably, getting most of our soldiers out by next March will require getting some of them out, y'know, sooner.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Turning Collins Blue?

Yesterday, Sen. Collins was one of only two Republicans to back the Democratic budget resolution.

Collins explained her vote this way:

As with any major legislation, the fiscal year 2008 that was approved by the Senate is by no means perfect. But it does include many provisions that I support including increased funding for health insurance for low-income children; restored funding for the LIHEAP program; more funding for vital first responder grant programs; increased funding for veterans’ health care, and an expansion of the tax deduction for teachers...
It's worth mentioning that the resolution is nonbinding.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Thanks, Maine Bloggers

Wanted to write a quick post to tip my hat to the folks at Turn Maine Blue, Maine Democrats and Thinking Beyond Tomorrow for their great work and for giving this humble blog a warm welcome to the Maine blogging community.

Adding a link to a blog roll is a small, silent gesture. But to the new guy on the block, it means a lot.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Lieberman Takes On Collins?

By all accounts, Homeland Security Committee chair Sen. Joe Lieberman (CFL-CT) and ranking member Sen. Collins have one of the chummiest across-the-aisle relationships in Congress.

Which makes the following Lieberman swipe at Maine's junior senator all the more remarkable:

Where we've seen failure is when the US government failed to plan projects carefully and then failed to keep a close watch over contractors and now we've seen billions of dollars wasted--a cost measured not just in dollars but in the undermining of the overall US mission in these war-torn countries.
(Emphasis added.)

Naturally, Lieberman wouldn't call it a swipe--he'd say he didn't mean to single out Collins.

But let's be clear: When people talk about dismal-to-non-existent oversight of Iraq spending over the last four years, they're talking, in no small part, about the ineffectual tenure of Sen. Susan Collins as Homeland Security Committee chair.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Collins: Gonzales Not My Business

Sen. Collins breaks her silence on the US Attorneys scandal to tell the Associated Press the following:

"I do not think the attorney general has served the president well, but it is up to the president to decide on General Gonzales' continued tenure."
Reading between the lines, the implicit point Collins is making here is that what happens in the executive branch is none of her business.

(Of course, several of her Republican colleagues have had no trouble calling for Gonzales' resignation.)

Interesting to know that, six years into the President's term, she still believes he deserves this kind of deference.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Collins on Gonzales?

Radio silence, so far, from Maine's junior senator on the fate of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales--at least I haven't been able to track down a statement. She hasn't made a peep about the behavior of anyone in the administration during the US Attorneys scandal, as far as I can tell.

This after two of her Republican colleagues have taken the unusual step of calling for the Gonzales' dismissal.

What's she waiting for? Permission from the White House?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Musical Chairs

Via The Caucus we learn about a recent press release with Senator Collins' name on it:

In the last election, the voters said they were sick of the partisanship that produces gridlock. They want us to work together and get things done. So, as a start, instead of sitting on opposite sides of the room like a house divided, we want the American people to see us sitting side by side as our Committee members work together make our nation more secure and our government more efficient.
A couple of points are in order.

First, since when was the election a referendum against partisanship? It may be pretty for Collins to think so. But back here in the real world, we all know that the midterms represented a stinging rebuke to President Bush and his enablers in Congress.

Voters didn't want less gridlock. The wanted to check the power of a Republican party intoxicated by power.

Second, while there's nothing wrong with shaking up committee seating assignments--can you think of an emptier gesture? If gridlock were the main problem in Washington, does this get us any closer to the solution?

Monday, March 5, 2007

4 Out of 5 Bushies Agree

Senator Collins gets a presidential support score of 79 from Congressional Quarterly.

The Senator will go to great lengths over the next two years to distance herself from the administration. But over the last six years, on issues large and small, she has been an advocate, supporter and enabler of the destructive and poisonous policies of President George W. Bush.

Her accountability moment awaits.