|United States Senator|
|Assumed office |
January 3, 1997
Serving with Angus King
|Preceded by||William Cohen|
|Chair of the Senate Aging Committee|
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Bill Nelson|
|Chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee|
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2007
|Preceded by||Joe Lieberman|
|Succeeded by||Joe Lieberman|
Susan Margaret Collins
December 7, 1952
Caribou, Maine, U.S.
Thomas Daffron (m. 2012)
|Relatives||Samuel Collins (uncle)|
|Education||St. Lawrence University (BA)|
Born in Caribou, Maine, Collins is a graduate of St. Lawrence University. Beginning her career as a staff assistant for Senator William Cohen in 1975, she later became staff director of the Oversight of Government Management Subcommittee of the Committee on Governmental Affairs (which later became the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs) in 1981. She was then appointed as the Commissioner of the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation by Governor John R. McKernan, Jr. in 1987. In 1992, she was appointed by President George H. W. Bush as the director of the Small Business Administration's regional office in Boston, Massachusetts. Collins became a deputy state treasurer in the office of the Treasurer and Receiver-General of Massachusetts in 1993. After moving back to Maine in 1994, Collins became the Republican nominee for Governor of Maine in the 1994 general election. Collins was the first female major-party nominee for the post, finishing third in a four-way race with 23% of the vote. After her bid for governor in 1994, Collins became the founding director of the Center for Family Business at Husson University.
Collins was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996. She was re-elected in 2002, 2008, and 2014. Collins is the chair of the Senate Special Committee on Aging and is a former chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. She is known for having never missed a single Senate vote since she became senator; by September 2015, her consecutive-votes streak had reached 6,000. She is the most senior Republican woman in the Senate, is dean of Maine's congressional delegation, and is the only New England Republican in the 116th Congress. Along with Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, she is frequently described as one of the most moderate Republicans in the Senate. She often positions herself as a pivotal vote, thus becoming a focal point during highly watched legislation.
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One of six children, Collins was born in Caribou, Maine, where her family operates a lumber business established by her great-great-great grandfather, Samuel W. Collins, in 1844. Her parents, Patricia (née McGuigan) and Donald F. Collins (1925-2018), each served as mayor of Caribou. Her father, a decorated World War II vet, also served in the Maine Legislature (one term in the house and four in the senate). Her mother was born in Barrancabermeja, Colombia, to American parents. Collins has English and Irish ancestry. Her uncle, Samuel W. Collins Jr., sat on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court from 1988 to 1994 and served in the Maine Senate from 1973 to 1984.
Collins attended Caribou High School, where she was president of the student council. During her senior year of high school in 1971, Collins was chosen to participate in the U.S. Senate Youth Program, through which she visited Washington, D.C. for the first time and engaged in a two-hour conversation with Maine's first female United States Senator, Margaret Chase Smith, also a Republican. Collins is the first program delegate elected to the Senate and currently holds the seat once held by Smith. After graduating from Caribou High School, she continued her education at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. Like her father, she was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa national academic honor society and Collins graduated from St. Lawrence magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in government in 1975.
Early political careerEdit
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Following graduation, Collins worked as a legislative assistant to U.S. Representative, and later U.S. Senator William Cohen (R-ME) from 1975 to 1987. She was also staff director of the Oversight of Government Management Subcommittee on the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (1981–87).
In 1987, Collins joined the cabinet of Governor John R. McKernan, Jr., as Commissioner of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. She was appointed the New England regional director for the Small Business Administration by President George H. W. Bush in 1992. After briefly serving in this post until the 1992 election of Democrat Bill Clinton, she moved to Massachusetts and became Deputy State Treasurer of Massachusetts under Joe Malone in 1993.
Returning to Maine, Collins won an eight-way Republican primary in the 1994 gubernatorial election, becoming the first woman to be nominated by a major party for Governor of Maine. During the campaign, she received little support from Republican leaders and was criticized by conservative groups for her more liberal views on social issues. She lost the general election, receiving 23% of the vote and placed third behind Democrat Joseph E. Brennan and the winner, Independent candidate Angus King, her future Senate colleague.
In December 1994, Collins became the founding executive director of the Center for Family Business at Husson College, Bangor, Maine. She served in this post until 1996, when she announced her candidacy for the seat in the U.S. Senate being vacated by her former boss, William Cohen, who retired to become United States Secretary of Defense under President Clinton. With Cohen's public endorsement, she won a difficult four-way primary and faced Joe Brennan, her Democratic opponent from the 1994 gubernatorial election, in the general election. She eventually defeated Brennan by a margin of 49% to 44%.
She was reelected in 2002 over State Senator Chellie Pingree (D), 58%–42%, and again in 2008 over Rep. Tom Allen (D), 61.5%–38.5%. In both elections, she carried every county in Maine. In 2014, Collins defeated Democrat Shenna Bellows, 68.5%-31.5%, again carrying every county.
Collins was described as one of "the last survivors of a once common species of moderate Northeastern Republican" during the Obama administration. She is considered a centrist member of the Republican Party, and an influential player in the U.S. Senate.
In 2017, The Lugar Center, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit founded by Senator Richard Lugar released a bipartisan index in cooperation with Georgetown University, ranking Senator Collins the most bipartisan senator during the first session of the 115th Congress (and the only U.S. Senator from the Northeast ranked among the top 10 most bipartisan senators).
She is a member of several moderate organizations within the Republican Party, including the Republican Main Street Partnership, Republican Majority For Choice, Republicans for Choice, The Wish List, Republicans for Environmental Protection, and the Republican Leadership Council. Although she shares a centrist ideology with Maine's former senator, Olympia Snowe, Collins is considered a "half-turn more conservative" than Snowe. Collins has consistently been endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign, a major LGBT rights organization; she was one of six Republicans running in 2008 to be endorsed by the HRC. She supported John McCain in the 2008 election for President of the United States. Collins became the state's senior senator in 2013 when Snowe left the Senate and was replaced by independent Angus King, who had defeated Collins in the 1994 governor election.
In the 1990s, Collins played an important role during the U.S. Senate's impeachment trial of Bill Clinton when she and fellow Maine Senator Olympia Snowe sponsored a motion that would have allowed the Senate to vote separately on the charges and the remedy. When the motion failed, both Snowe and Collins subsequently voted to acquit, believing that while Clinton had broken the law by committing perjury, the charges did not amount to grounds for removal from office.
In March 1997, the Senate adopted a broader investigation into White House and Congressional campaign fund-raising practices than initially wanted by Senate Republicans, who softened on the issue after a lunch meeting in a private caucus room. Collins stated there were "a number of allegations that may or may not be illegal, but they may be improper".
In a May 1997 interview, Collins stated her support for a proposal by Tom Daschle banning all abortions after the fetus was capable of living outside the womb and allowing exceptions to save the life of the woman and to protect her from physical injury imposed by the pregnancy. At the time there was an alternate measure proposed by Rick Santorum that would ban partial-birth abortion, which Collins said "ignores cases in the medical literature involving women with very serious physical health problems."
In 2001 Collins authored a measure that granted the United States Secretary of Education authority to grant waivers that would relieve reservists and members of the National Guard from making federal student loan payments during their tenure on active duty and grant the same privileges to victims and families of those affected by the September 11 attacks. The bill was passed in the Senate and House in December 2001.
In November 2002, the Senate overwhelmingly approved the creation of the Department of Homeland Security while a Democratic effort to remove the bill's provisions fell short on a 52-to-47 vote that came after President Bush lobbied against the vote. Collins and multiple other senators stated that Senate and House Republicans as well as the White House had given them an "ironclad promise" to essentially rescind provisions in the first spending bill to pass through Congress the following year.
In 2004, Collins was one of the primary sponsors of legislation overhauling the U.S. intelligence community via the creation of a new post of national intelligence director that would oversee budgets and most assets of the spy agencies and mandates federal agencies establish minimum standards for states as it pertained to issuing driver's licenses and birth certificates along with directing the United States Department of Homeland Security to form standards for ID used to board airplanes. The bill passed in the House and Senate in December, Collins stating afterward, "This was the most difficult bill to bring from conception to birth that I can imagine being involved with. But that makes the victory doubly satisfying." President Bush signed Collins' bill, formally known as the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, on December 17, 2004.
In October 2008, Collins criticized robocalls by the McCain campaign claiming that Barack Obama "has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge's home and killed Americans," asserting that those "kind of tactics have no place in Maine politics" and urging McCain to cease the calls immediately.
In April 2010, Collins and Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman issued a subpoena seeking documents and interviews associated with the American government's investigation into the conduct of investigators during their interactions with Nidal Hasan prior to the Fort Hood shooting. The Pentagon announced that the Obama administration would not authorize Senate investigators to question intelligence agents who reviewed e-mails between Hasan and an extremist Islamic cleric ahead of the shooting. Collins and Lieberman issued a statement accusing the Departments of Justice and Defense of refusing "to provide access to their agents who reportedly reviewed Major Hasan's communications with radical extremist cleric Anwar al Awlaki and to transcripts of prosecution interviews with Hasan's associates and superiors, which DOD already provided to its internal review."
In May 2010, Collins and Olympia Snowe were the only two Republicans to vote for an unsuccessful Democratic measure that would prevent bailouts, highlight financial products of complexity and toughen consumer protection.
In February 2013, Collins announced her opposition to the confirmation of fellow Republican Chuck Hagel for United States Secretary of Defense, citing her belief that Hagel's "past positions, votes and statements match the challenges of our time." The announcement came as a surprise, as Collins was considered a possible supporter of his nomination, and occurred while the nomination was being filibustered. The filibuster on Hagel's nomination was defeated, and he was confirmed later that month.
In May 2013, following the disclosure that the Internal Revenue Service put additional scrutiny on conservative groups, Collins stated that the revelation would "contributes to the profound distrust that the American people have in government" and added that she was disappointed that President Obama "hasn't personally condemned this and spoken out."
On March 26, 2014, Elle Magazine honored Collins as "one of the ten most powerful Women in Washington Power List".
According to a poll released by Morning Consult on November 24, 2015, Collins, with a 78% approval rating, had the highest approval rating of any sitting Republican U.S. senator, as well as the second-highest overall, behind only Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont. In July, 2018, Morning Consult showed Collins with a 56% approval rating, with 34% disapproving. Only a month later, on August 21, a Public Policy Polling poll showed Collins with a 35% approval rating, with 48% disapproving, following her support for Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. In January 2019, a Morning Consult poll showed her approval rating to be back up at 53% with 38% disapproving. However, only a few months later in July, another Morning Consult poll showed Collins with a net disapproval rating, with 45% approving while 48% disapprove.
In May 2016, the Senate passed an appropriations bill containing an amendment from Collins that the latter said would assist with preventing the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development from gaining "national zoning authority for every neighborhood in our country". The legislation was given a veto threat by the White House, which was said by the Office of Management and Budget to be opposed "to the inclusion of problematic ideological provisions that are beyond the scope of funding legislation."
In 2018, along with Democrats Tim Kaine and Catherine Cortez Masto and fellow Republican Shelley Moore Capito, Collins authored the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act, legislation centered on providing a public health approach in order to address Alzheimer's by authorizing $20 million annually to establish the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Public Health Centers of Excellence and aid statewide efforts to promote brain health and reduce cognitive decline. The bill passed in the Senate and House and was signed by President Trump in January 2019.
In February 2019, Collins was one of five senators to sponsor legislation authorizing the Treasury Department to mint coins honoring the late George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush under the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005. Following the Senate Intelligence Committee holding a closed door meeting with Michael Cohen, Collins stated that senators "clearly need to re-interview some witnesses whose accounts [Cohen] contradicts," her comment being seen as hinting at the Intelligence Committee's interest in speaking with Donald Trump, Jr. again. In June, Collins cosponsored an amendment to that would form the John S. McCain III Human Rights Commission, which would hold hearings and briefings on the subject of human rights violations ahead of collaborations with the Trump administration to address the aforementioned violations, and be included in a defense authorization bill McCain had helped create as Armed Services Committee chairman.
In her May 2019 commencement speech at Maine Maritime Academy, Collins stated that getting the Senate to approve funding for a new training ship for the academy was her "number one priority" and that funding was included in the proposed budget of President Trump while she would still seek further funds through other measures.
In July 2019, Collins cosponsored the Fallen Journalists Memorial Act, a bill introduced by Ben Cardin and Rob Portman that would create a new memorial that would be privately funded and constructed on federal lands within Washington, D.C. in order to honor journalists, photographers, and broadcasters that have died in the line of duty. Collins called freedom of the press "one of our fundamental constitutional rights" and spoke of the risks of reprisals faced by reporters around the world for their work.
Collins is a self-described "moderate Republican". She has occasionally been referred to as a "liberal Republican" relative to her colleagues. In 2013, the National Journal gave Collins a score of 55% conservative and 45% liberal.
The New York Times arranged Republican Senators in 2017 based on ideology and ranked Senator Collins as the most liberal Republican. According to GovTrack, Senator Collins is the most moderate Republican in the Senate; GovTrack's analysis places her to the left of every Republican and four Democrats in 2017. Another website, OnTheIssues.org, labels Collins a "Moderate Libertarian Liberal". It also gives politicians a "social score" and an "economic score". Her social score is 60%, with 0% being the most conservative and 100% being the most liberal. Additionally, Collins's economic score is 53%, with 0% being the most liberal and 100% being the most conservative. The American Conservative Union gives her a lifetime rating of 46.03% conservative. In 2016, the ACU gave Collins a score of 23%. The Americans for Democratic Action gives her a rating of 45% liberal. In 2015, the ADA gave her a score of 30%.
According to CQ Roll Call, Collins sided with President Obama's position 75.9% of the time in 2013, one of only two Republicans to vote with him more than 70% of the time. Five ThirtyEight, which tracks Congressional votes, found that Collins voted with President Trump's positions about 69% of the time as of June, 2019. Nonetheless, she has voted with the GOP majority on party-line votes with much greater frequency during the Trump presidency than during the Obama presidency. "In 2017...Collins voted with her party a significantly higher 87% of the time on party-line votes. That was by far the highest in her career. It still made her the Republican senator most likely to cross the aisle, but it also moved her significantly closer to how often the average Republican senator voted with their party on party-line votes (96% in 2017). Collins voted for the Republican tax plan and, perhaps most significantly, for Neil Gorsuch's confirmation to the Supreme Court."
Bipartisanship and moderate RepublicanismEdit
Susan Collins has been considered by some groups and organizations to be a relatively bipartisan member of Congress. In 2018, Collins was considered the most bipartisan senator for the fifth consecutive year by the Lugar Center, an organization founded by former Republican Senate colleague Richard Lugar. A study published by Congressional Quarterly found that Collins voted with her party on party-line votes 59% of the time between 1997 and 2016; currently, she is the Republican senator most likely to vote with Democrats. Her perceived bipartisanship is largely due to her roots as a Northeastern Republican. With regard to judicial nominees, however, Collins has voted with the GOP majority nearly 99% of the time over the last 22 years. However, she also voted to confirm Democratic Supreme Court nominees, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Her office also noted that she has voted to confirm both Democratic and Republican judicial nominees 90% of the time during her tenure.
In 2014, her Senate colleague, Angus King, an Independent who caucuses with the Democratic Party, endorsed her for her re-election campaign. In 2019, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin endorsed Susan Collins for her 2020 re-election bid. This bipartisanship and centrism has attracted some criticism from the conservative faction of the GOP. The conservative magazine, Human Events, considered her to be one of the top ten RINOs, or what they label insufficiently conservative, in 2005. Her highest conservative composite score from the National Journal was a 62% in 2009, while her highest liberal composite score was a 52.8% in 2006. The Tea Party threatened to challenge Collins over some of her votes. Collins "who is fiscally conservative but holds socially moderate views, plays a unique role in the current Republican drama at a time when a strong Tea Party faction has pushed the GOP — and its leadership — to the right." She was the subject of negative criticism from movement conservatives for her vote against repealing Obamacare.
On August 8, 2016, Collins announced that she would not be voting for Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for the 2016 election. She said that as a lifelong Republican she did not make the decision lightly but felt that he is unsuitable for office, "based on his disregard for the precept of treating others with respect, an idea that should transcend politics." She considered voting for the Libertarian Party's ticket or a write-in candidate. During the Trump presidency, Collins has voted with the GOP majority with much greater frequency (87% of the time on party-line votes in 2017).
Firing of FBI Director James ComeyEdit
Collins supported Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.
On January 28, 2017, Collins joined five other Republicans to oppose President Donald Trump's temporary ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries saying it is "overly broad and implementing it will be immediately problematic." She said, for example, that "it could interfere with the immigration of Iraqis who worked for American forces in Iraq as translators and bodyguards — people who literally saved the lives of our troops and diplomats during the last decade and whose lives are at risk if they remain in Iraq." She also objected to the religious aspects of the ban saying, "As I stated last summer, religious tests serve no useful purpose in the immigration process and run contrary to our American values."
Collins stated in February 2017 that she was open to subpoena President Trump's tax returns as part of an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. She also said that she was open to public and secret hearings into Michael T. Flynn's covert communications with Russian officials.
In July 2017, after President Trump said it would be a violation for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to investigate the finances of both him and his family not related to the probe, Collins commented, "I understand how difficult and frustrating this investigation is for the president, but he should not say anything further about the special counsel, his staff or the investigation."
In a January 2018 interview, Collins stated her openness to legislation protecting Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired after reports surfaced that President Trump considered doing so the previous June and her confidence in United States Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein: "It probably wouldn't hurt for us to pass one of those bills. There are some constitutional issues with those bills, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to put that extra safeguard in place given the latest stories, but again, I have faith in the deputy attorney general." She furthered that Rosenstein being fired would be a mistake and compared the scenario to that of the Saturday Night Massacre.
In November 2018, Collins expressed concern over comments made by Acting Attorney General of the United States Matthew Whitaker and support for the Senate bringing up "legislation that would put restrictions on the ability of President Donald Trump to fire the special counsel", furthering that the bill being debated and passed in the Senate would "send a powerful message that Mr. Mueller must be able to complete his work unimpeded."
Foreign policy and terrorismEdit
October 10, 2002, saw Collins vote with the majority in favor of the Iraq War Resolution authorizing President George W. Bush to go to war against Iraq. In November 2007, Collins was one of four Republicans to vote for a Democratic proposal of 50 billion that would condition further spending on a timeline for withdrawing troops, mandating that a withdrawal begin 30 days after the bill was enacted as part of goal of removing all US troops in Iraq by December 15, 2008. The bill failed to get the sixty votes needed to overcome a filibuster. In April 2008, Collins and Democrats Ben Nelson and Evan Bayh met with President Bush's advisor on Iraq and Afghanistan Douglas Lute as the three senators expressed support for a prohibition on spending for major reconstruction projects, the proposal requiring Iraqis to pay for its security forces to be trained and equipped and reimburse the American military for the estimated $153 million a month the military spent on fueling in combat operations in Iraq. Collins stated after the meeting that while the administration did not have a view that was entirely similar to that of the senators, they at least seemed open to it. In June 2014, while growing violence erupted in Iraq under the leadership of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Collins stated that the violence would have been slower had a residual NATO force been present in Iraq and that the question was whether air strikes were effective.
Collins, joining the Senate majority, voted in favor of the Protect America Act, an amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. She later sponsored the Accountability in Government Contracting Act of 2007, approved unanimously by the Senate, which would create more competition between military contractors.
Agreeing with the majority in both parties, Collins voted in favor of the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment, which gave President Bush and the executive branch the authorization for military force against Iran.
In January 2010, Collins was one of six senators to sign a letter to the Justice Department expressing concern "about using the U.S. criminal justice system for trying enemy combatants" and urged a reconsideration of the "decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other alleged conspirators in the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York." The senators cited the September 11 attacks as an act of war with the perpetrators being "war criminals".
In December 2010, Collins voted for the ratification of New START, a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russian Federation obliging both countries to have no more than 1,550 strategic warheads as well as 700 launchers deployed during the next seven years along with providing a continuation of on-site inspections that halted when START I expired the previous year. It was the first arms treaty with Russia in eight years.
In September 2014, Collins voted for President Obama's plan to training and arm moderate Syrian rebels to battle the Islamic State as part of the administration's military campaign to destroy the latter group while noting that she believed she was not given enough information in accordance with her position as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and expressed concern "that the fighters that we train will be focused on what really motivates them, which is removing (Syrian President Bashar al-) Assad, not fighting ISIS."
In September 2016, in advance of a UN Security Council resolution 2334 condemning Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, Collins signed an AIPAC-sponsored letter urging President Barack Obama to veto "one-sided" resolutions against Israel. In 2017, Collins supported an Anti-Boycott Act, which would make it legal for U.S. states to refuse to do business with contractors that engage in boycotts against Israel.
In August 2017, after President Trump threatened North Korea would be "met with fire and fury like the world has never seen" if it continued threatening the United States, Collins said in a statement, "Given the credible and serious threat North Korea poses to our country, and in particular to U.S. forces and our allies in the region, I welcome the administration's success in securing new economic sanctions against North Korea at the United Nations." In July 2018, Collins said a Washington Post report that found North Korea allegedly not willing to denuclearize as troubling, citing North Korea's "long history of cheating on agreements that it's made with previous administrations." She recalled her support for Trump communicating with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was "because I do believe that has the potential for increasing our safety and eventually leading to the denuclearization of North Korea" and added that this could be achieved through "verifiable, unimpeded, reliable inspections."
In January 2018, in response to the Trump administration not implementing congressional-approved sanctions on Russia, Collins stated that it was confirmed Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, furthering that "not only should there be a price to pay in terms of sanctions, but also we need to put safeguards in place right now for the elections for this year." She noted that the legislation received bipartisan support and predicted that Russia would also attempt to interfere in the 2018 elections.
In May 2018, Collins and fellow Maine senator Angus King introduced the PRINT Act, a bill that if enacted would halt collections of countervailing duties and antidumping duties on Canadian newsprint and assert the U.S. Department of Commerce conduct a study of economic health of printing and publishing industries. Proponents of the bill argued it would offer a lifeline to the publishing industry amid newsprint price increases while critics accused it of setting "a dangerous precedent for future investigations into allegations of unfair trade practices."
In January 2019, Collins was one of eleven Republican senators to vote to advance legislation intended to block President Trump's intent to lift sanctions against three Russian companies. Collins told reporters that she disagreed with "the easing of the sanctions because I think it sends the wrong message to Russia and to the oligarch and close ally of Mr. Putin, Oleg Deripaska, who will in my judgement continue to maintain considerable [ownership] under the Treasury's plan."
In January 2019, Collins was one of eight senators to reintroduce legislation to prevent President Trump from withdrawing the United States from NATO by imposing a requirement of a two-thirds approval from the Senate for a president to suspend, terminate or withdraw American involvement with the international organization following a report that President Trump expressed interest in withdrawing from NATO several times during the previous year.
In 2019, after President Trump cut aid to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador as part of an effort to curb immigration to the United States from those countries, Collins opined "that cutting aid may have the opposite effect" and could possibly "make the lives of these individuals even worse and thus encourage more of them to flee the countries that they are now leaving. So I'd actually like to see the president consider a different approach, an opposite approach." She added that increasing aid could "help the countries stem some of the problems that are causing people to leave."
In September 2009, Collins stated that she was unsure if adding more American troops in Afghanistan was the solution to ending the conflict, but cited the need for "more American civilians to help build up institutions" and growth of the Afghan army. She opined that the US was "dealing with widespread corruption, a very difficult terrain, and I'm just wondering where this ends and how we'll know when we've succeeded."
In October 2010, along with Chuck Grassley, Tom Coburn, and Claire McCaskill, Collins was one of four senators to send a letter to President Obama requesting he remove Arnold Field from the latter's position as Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, citing their repeated expressing of concern for the SIGAR and their disappointment with the Obama administration's "ongoing failure to take decisive action."
In August 2017, following President Trump giving a national speech on the war in Afghanistan in which he announced an increase in troops there and that he would prioritize partnerships between the US, Pakistan and India, Collins commended Trump for providing clarity after years of the US lacking a "clear focus and defined strategy" with respect to Afghanistan and that he made the case for the Afghanistan government needing to participate "in defending its people, ending havens for terrorists, and curtailing corruption." Collins confirmed she had spoken to Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert.
Ahead of President Obama and President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping holding a meeting at an informal retreat in June 2013, Collins cosponsored legislation that would expand American law to authorize the Commerce Department impose "countervailing duties" in response to subsidized imports through mandating the Commerce Department investigate in order to determine if currency manipulation counts as a form of subsidization. The bill also contained a provision mandating the Treasury Department designate countries with "fundamentally misaligned currencies" and was sponsored at a time of a recent rise in the Chinese currency to the highest level since 2005.
Following reports of China-based hackers breaking into the computer networks of the U.S. government personnel office and stealing information identifying at least 4 million federal workers in June 2015, Collins commented that the hacking was "yet another indication of a foreign power probing successfully and focusing on what appears to be data that would identify people with security clearances."
In April 2018, Collins stated her belief that the US needed "a more nuanced approach" in dealing with China but gave President Trump "credit for levying these tariffs against the Chinese, with whom we've talked for a decade about their unfair trade practices and their theft of intellectual property from American firms." She furthered that while the US needed to toughen its stance against China, it would need to do this in a manner that did not create "a trade war and retaliation that will end up with our European and Asian competitors getting business that otherwise would have come to American farmers."
In June 2018, Collins cosponsored a bipartisan bill that would reinstate penalties on ZTE for export control violations in addition to barring American government agencies from either purchasing or leasing equipment or services from ZTE or Huawei. The bill was offered as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act and was in direct contrast to the Trump administration's announced intent to ease sanctions on ZTE.
In January 2019, Collins was a cosponsor of legislation unveiled by Marco Rubio and Mark Warner intended to "combat tech-specific threats to national security posed by foreign actors like China and ensure U.S. technological supremacy by improving interagency coordination across the U.S. government" through the formation of a White House Office of Critical Technologies and Security. The proposed office would be responsible for coordinating across agencies and with developing a strategy that was long-term and having to do with the entire government with the aim of protecting "against state-sponsored technology theft and risks to critical supply chains."
In February 2019, amid a report by the Commerce Department that ZTE had been caught illegally shipping goods of American origin to Iran and North Korea, Collins was one of seven senators to sponsor a bill reimposing sanctions on ZTE in the event that ZTE did not honor both American laws and its agreement with the Trump administration.
In February 2019, Collins signed a letter to President Trump noting that China "has not opened their market to fresh potatoes from the United States and has left U.S. potato growers without a clear path forward on how to resolve concerns that are standing in the way of opening this important market" and requesting that the administration treat the issue with high priority in its talks with China regarding a trade deal.
In February 2019, during ongoing disputes between the United States and China on trade, Collins was one of ten senators to sign a bipartisan letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Energy Secretary Rick Perry asserting that the American government "should consider a ban on the use of Huawei inverters in the United States and work with state and local regulators to raise awareness and mitigate potential threats" and urged them "to work with all federal, state and local regulators, as well as the hundreds of independent power producers and electricity distributors nation-wide to ensure our systems are protected."
In 2016, Collins authorized a provision to allow aircraft traveling to or returning from Cuba in the transatlantic route the authority to make stops in the US for refueling at the Bangor, Maine airport. The provision was approved as part of an amendment to a spending bill and earned objection from the Treasury Department who sent a concerned message asserting that the provision's language could be used by airlines or countries not allowed to fly in the US to land planes on American soil.
In May 2019, Collins was one of thirteen senators to support a bipartisan proposal that would remove restrictions on private financing for exports in an effort to remove a barrier for farmers interested in selling products to Cuba. Collins and Angus King said in a statement that the intended effects of the proposal were about evening "the playing field for American farmers to open up a significant new export opportunity."
Collins was one of seven Senate Republicans who did not sign a March 2015 letter to the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran attempting to cast doubt on the Obama administration's authority to engage in nuclear-proliferation negotiations with Iran. In reference to the letter, Collins told reporters, "I don't think that the ayatollah is going to be particularly convinced by a letter from members of the Senate, even one signed by a number of my distinguished and high-ranking colleagues." A deal between the United States and other world powers with the stated aim of keeping Iran from being able to produce an atomic weapon for at least 10 years was announced in July 2015. Collins was reluctant to evaluate the effectiveness of the agreement as described: "A verifiable diplomatic agreement that prevents Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and dismantles its nuclear infrastructure is the desired outcome; however, it is far from clear that this agreement will accomplish those goals." In September 2015, Collins announced her opposition to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in a Senate floor speech, stating that the agreement was "fundamentally flawed because it leaves Iran as capable of building a nuclear weapon at the expiration of the agreement as it is today" and predicted that following the agreement's expiration, Iran "will be a more dangerous and stronger nuclear threshold state – exactly the opposite of what this negotiation should have produced."
In September 2016, Collins was one of thirty-four senators to sign a letter to United States Secretary of State John Kerry advocating for the United States using "all available tools to dissuade Russia from continuing its airstrikes in Syria" from an Iranian airbase near Hamadan "that are clearly not in our interest" and stating that there should be clear enforcement by the US of the airstrikes violating "a legally binding Security Council Resolution" on Iran.
In June 2017, Collins voted for legislation that imposed new sanctions on Russia targeting the country's mining, metals, shipping and railways in response to Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential election and implemented new sanctions on Iran regarding its ballistic missile program as well as other activities that were not related to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. In July 2017, Collins voted in favor of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act that placed sanctions on Iran together with Russia and North Korea.
In August 2018, after President Trump imposed sanctions on Iran while remaining "open to reaching a more comprehensive deal that addresses the full range of the regime's malign activities, including its ballistic missile program and its support for terrorism", Collins opined that it was likely unilateral sanctions would make Iran "less likely to come back to the negotiating table."
In June 2019, following President Trump's decision to halt an air strike on Iran planned as a response to an American surveillance drone being downed by Iran, Collins stated that the US could not "allow Iran to continue to launch this kind of attack" but warned miscalculations by either side "could lead to a war in the Middle East, and that is something I don’t think anyone wants to see happen."
Saudi Arabia and YemenEdit
In March 2018, Collins was one of five Republican senators to vote against tabling a resolution that would cease the U.S. military's support for Saudi Arabia's bombing operations in Yemen. In August, Collins was one of nine senators and two Republicans to sign a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging the Trump administration to comply with a law requiring certification that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were meeting a humanitarian criteria or else being removed from American military assistance. The letter implicated the ongoing Yemen civil war as posing a threat to American interests through its continuation. In October 2018, Collins was one of seven senators to sign a letter to Secretary of State Pompeo expressing that they found it "difficult to reconcile known facts with at least two" of the Trump administration's certifications that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were attempting to protect Yemen civilians and were in compliance with US laws on arms sales, citing their lack of understanding for "a certification that the Saudi and Emirati governments are complying with applicable agreements and laws regulating defense articles when the [memo] explicitly states that, in certain instances, they have not done so." In December, Collins was one of seven Republican senators to vote for the resolution withdrawing American armed forces' support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and an amendment by Todd Young ensuring mid-air refueling between American and Saudi Air Force did not resume.
In February 2019, Collins was one of seven senators to reintroduce legislation requiring sanctions on Saudi officials involved in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and seeking to address support for the Yemen civil war through prohibiting some weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and U.S. military refueling of Saudi coalition planes. Collins was one of seven Republicans who voted to end US support for the war in Yemen in February 2019, and, in May 2019, she was again one of seven Republicans who voted to override Trump's veto of the resolution on Yemen. In June 2019, Collins was one of seven Republicans to vote to block President Trump's Saudi arms deal providing weapons to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Jordan, and was one of five Republicans to vote against an additional 20 arms sales.
Collins is a pro-choice Republican. The Republican Majority for Choice, a pro-choice Republican PAC, supports Senator Collins. By July 2018, Collins was one of three Republican Senators, the others being Shelley Moore Capito and Lisa Murkowski, who publicly supported the Roe v. Wade decision.
On October 21, 2003, with Senate Democrats, Collins was one of the three Republican Senators to oppose the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. She did however join the majority of Republicans in voting for Laci and Conner's Law to increase penalties for killing the fetus while committing a violent crime against the mother. On March 30, 2017, Collins would again join Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to break party lines on a vote; this time against a bill allowing states to defund Planned Parenthood. As in that case, Vice President Pence was forced to break a 50–50 tie in favor of the bill. She was one of three Republicans, with Capito and Murkowski, who opposed a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act that included a provision to defund Planned Parenthood. She was one of seven Republicans, including Capito and Murkowski, who voted against a bill to repeal the ACA without replacement that would have also defunded Planned Parenthood. In 2018, Collins voted with the majority of Senate Democrats against a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. She was also one of two Republicans who voted against an amendment to ban federal funds for facilities that provide abortion services and family planning. In 2019, Collins joined a majority of Republicans, and three Democrats, to vote for a bill that required doctors to provide care and medical intervention for infants born alive after a failed abortion. Also in 2019, she announced that she is opposed to laws that ban abortions even in cases of rape or incest, specifically stating that such laws are against national Supreme Court rulings.Planned Parenthood, which rates politicians' support for pro-choice issues, has given Collins a lifetime rating of 70%. In 2017, Planned Parenthood gave her a rating of 61%. Also in 2017, Planned Parenthood gave Collins an award given to Republicans who vote closely in line with their positions. NARAL Pro-Choice America, which also provides ratings, gave her a score of 90% in 2014 and a 45% in 2017. Conversely, National Right to Life, which opposes abortion and rates support for pro-life issues, gave Collins a rating of 25% during the 114th Congress and a 40% in 2018.
In February 2019, along with Democrats Patrick Leahy and Bob Casey, Jr. and Republican Chuck Grassley, Collins was one of four senators to introduce the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA), a bill that sought to undo the standards imposed by the 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Gross v. FBL Financial Services and restore the requirement that plaintiffs had to show only that age was a factor in their decision on employment as opposed to the deciding factor.
In September 2017, Collins was one of four senators to introduce the Cultivating Revitalization by Expanding American Agricultural Trade and Exports Act (CREEATE Act), legislation that would increase funding for both the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development Program (FMDP) of the Agriculture Department. The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) stated that the CREAATE Act would double annual MAP funding from $200 million to $400 million, and increase annual FMDP funding from $34.5 million to $69 million over a five year period.
In November 2017, following an announcement of the Agriculture Department's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarding a grant of $388,000 to the University of Maine at Orono, Collins and fellow Maine Senator Angus King said the funding would "support the University of Maine's cutting-edge research into potato breeding and help the state build on our strong agricultural traditions so we can make Maine potato products more economically resilient."
In February 2018, Collins and Democrat Bob Casey introduced the Organic Agriculture Research Act of 2018, a bill reauthorizing increased funding for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) of the USDA as part of an assurance of organic agricultural research having continued investment. The bill also reauthorized OREI for five more years and increased funding from $30 million in fiscal year 2019 to $50 million in fiscal year 2023. Collins commented that the legislation would "provide some funding for research into organic farming methods and help offset part of the cost that the state uses to certify farms as complying with USDA standards for organic farming."
In 2019, Collins worked with Democrats Patrick Leahy and Sherrod Brown and fellow Republican David Perdue on a bipartisan effort meant to ensure students have access to local foods that will also help both local farmers and childhood health. The proposal would assist the Farm to School Grant Program administered through the Agriculture Department and raise the program's authorized level from $5 million to $15 million in addition to furthering the maximum grant award to $250,000.
In March 2019, Collins was one of thirty-eight senators to sign a letter to United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue warning that dairy farmers "have continued to face market instability and are struggling to survive the fourth year of sustained low prices" and urging his department to "strongly encourage these farmers to consider the Dairy Margin Coverage program."
In February 2019, Collins and Democrat Kamala Harris introduced the Help Extract Animals from Red Tape Act (HEART Act), a bill meant to assist animals previously rescued by the federal government from being used in animal fights. Collins stated that animals needed to be placed in "loving homes as soon as it is safely possible" and that the HEART Act "would reduce the minimum amount of time animals must be held in shelters and alleviate the financial burdens that fall on those who care for seized animals."
In February 2019, Collins and Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed introduced the Cybersecurity Disclosure Act of 2019, a bill that would require that publicly traded companies include information in their Securities and Exchange Commission disclosures for investors as to determine whether or not any member of the company’s board of directors is a cybersecurity expert. Collins stated that cyberattacks had become more common and called on Congress to take action "to better protect Americans from hackers attempting to steal sensitive data and personal information." Collins also cited statistics from the Identity Theft Resource Center and Deloitte that demonstrated an increased numbers of cyberattacks across numerous industries in the United States and noting financial institutions that had named cybersecurity as one of the top three risks expected to rise in importance as it related to businesses over the course of the following two years. The bill was referred to for consideration to the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee of the Senate.
On December 21, 2017, Collins was one of six senators to introduce the Secure Elections Act, legislation authorizing block grants for states that would update outdated voting technology as well as form a program for an independent panel of experts that would work toward the development of cybersecurity guidelines for election systems which would then be implemented by states if they choose along with offering states resources to install the recommendations.
In October 2018 Collins cosponsored, together with Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, a bipartisan bill that if passed would block "any persons from foreign adversaries from owning or having control over vendors administering U.S. elections." Protect Our Elections Act would make companies involved in administering elections reveal foreign owners, and informing local, state and federal authorities if said ownership changes. Companies failing to comply would face fined of $100,000.
In May 2019, Collins and Democrat Amy Klobuchar introduced the Invest in Our Democracy Act of 2019, legislation that would direct the Election Assistance Commission to provide grants supporting education being continued in election administration or cybersecurity for both election officials and employees, Klobuchar stating that the bill "would ensure that election officials have the training and resources to improve cyber-defenses ahead of future elections."
In April 2017, along with Democrats Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein and fellow Republican Marco Rubio, Collins cosponsored a resolution condemning hate crimes related to ethnicity, religion, and race. The resolution's text cited incidents reflecting an uptake of anti-Semitic hate crimes throughout the United States and incidents of Islamic centers and mosques being burned in Texas, Washington, and Florida in addition to asking the federal government to cooperate with state and local officials to increase the speed of its investigations into hate crimes. In a statement, Collins said, "The recent rise in the number of hate crimes is truly troubling and is counter to American values. No individual in our society should have to live in fear of violence or experience discrimination."
In 2004, Susan Collins was one of six Republicans who voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment which was an amendment intended to ban same-sex marriage. In June 2006, she voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment for a second time. Collins joined six other Republicans, including Olympia Snowe and John McCain, in voting against the effort to ban gay marriage.
In May 2012, in their capacity as members of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Collins and Joe Lieberman sponsored a bill intended to extend benefits to same-sex partners of American government workers and stated that the legislation was meant to make the government compete with the private sector for top employees along with provide assurance of fair treatment for those in same-sex relationships rather than address the issue of same-sex marriage. The bill cleared the committee on a voice vote.
In September 2013, Collins and Democrat Tammy Baldwin introduced the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2013, legislation that would extend employee benefit programs in order to provide coverage for federal employees' same-sex domestic partners to the same extent as those benefits used to cover married opposite-sex spouses of federal employees. Collins stated the bill being implemented would be "both fair policy and good business practice" and that the federal government "must compete with the private sector when it comes to attracting the most qualified, skilled, and dedicated employees."
Collins stated her support on same-sex marriage on June 25, 2014, after previously declining to publicly state her views, citing a policy to not discuss state-level issues, as well as a belief that each state's voters should decide the issue. When she won reelection in 2014, she became the first Republican senator to be reelected while supporting same-sex marriage.
Collins voted for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to prevent job discrimination based on sexuality and gender identity. In 2015, she was one of 11 Republican Senators who voted to give social security benefits to same-sex couples in states where same-sex marriage was not yet recognized. The Human Rights Campaign, which rates politicians' support for LGBT issues, gave Collins a score of 85% during the 114th Congress. She received a 33% during the 115th Congress.
In 2017, Collins and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand "introduced a bipartisan amendment to protect transgender service members from President Trump's plan to ban them from the military." Collins and Gillibrand were joined by Jack Reed in reintroducing the legislation in February 2019, after the Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration's ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. In a statement, Collins said that "if individuals are willing to put on the uniform of our country and risk their lives for our freedoms, then we should be expressing our gratitude to them, not trying to kick them out of the military." In 2019, Collins co-sponsored legislation with Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) to extend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. In May 2019, she also introduced legislation, co-sponsoring the bill with Independent Senator Angus King (Maine) and Democratic Senator Tim Kaine (Virginia), to prohibit housing discrimination against LGBT people.
In June 2019, Collins and Democrat Debbie Stabenow introduced the Quality Care for Moms and Babies Act, a bill that if enacted would grant funding for new community partnerships that would respond to the high rate of maternal and infant mortality in the US. Collins stated that the bill built on the success of statewide practices of developing comprehensive health care plans for both mothers and their children through "authorizing funding to support existing collaboratives and encouraging new ones" and that it would also "support new quality measures in the CHIP and Medicaid programs to monitor progress more accurately."
In 2016, Collins authored the Safe Treatments and Opportunities to Prevent Pain Act, a provision intended to encourage the National Institutes of Health to further its research into opioid therapy alternatives in regard to pain management, and the Infant Plan of Safe Care Act, which mandated that states ensure safe care plans are developed for infants that are drug dependent before they are discharged from hospitals. These provisions were included in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, legislation that created programs and expanded treatment access alongside implementing 181 million in new spending as part of an attempt to curb heroin and opioid addiction.
In May 2017, Collins was one of six senators to introduce the Medicaid Coverage for Addiction Recovery Expansion Act, legislation that would allow treatment facilities with up to 40 beds reimbursement by Medicaid for 60 consecutive days of inpatient services and serve as a modification of the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Disease law which only authorized Medicaid coverage for facilities with 16 beds or less. Every senator that introduced the bill said that their state had been impacted by opioid addiction and would benefit from the bill's passage.
In December 2017, Collins was one of nine senators to sign a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer describing opioid use as a non-partisan issue presently "ravaging communities in every state and preys upon individuals and families regardless of party affiliation" and requesting the pair "make every effort to ensure that new, substantial and sustained funding for the opioid epidemic is included in any legislative package."
In September 2018, Collins authored two bills as part of the "Opioid Crisis Response Act", a bipartisan package of 70 Senate bills that would alter programs across multiple agencies in an effort to prevent opioids from being shipped through the U.S. Postal Service and grant doctors the ability to prescribe medications designed to wean opioid addictions. The bills passed 99 to 1.
In April 2019, Collins cosponsored the Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act, legislation that authorized medical records of patients being treated for substance use disorder being shared among healthcare providers in the event that the patient provided the information. Cosponsor Shelley Moore Capito stated that the bill also prevented medical providers from unintentionally providing opioids to individuals in recovery.
In 2015, Collins recounted that drug manufactures had claimed their price increases were necessary for cost related to both research and development and that she happened to know "in the case of [the antimalarial drug] Daraprim, that it’s been around since the 1950s, and Turing [which owns Daraprim] was founded in 2015."
In 2016, Collins and Democrat Claire McCaskill signed a letter to Pfizer CEO Ian Read where they noted that drug overdoses were the leading cause of accidental death in the US and requested an explanation on "the number and amount of price increases and decreases taken by Hospira between 2009 and 2014 for naloxone" along with "how Hospira came to the decision to raise the price, as well as how much the increases contributed to research and development into improving the product, and whether any issues of patient access arose."
In January 2017, along with Chuck Grassley, Sherrod Brown, and Bob Casey, Jr., Collins introduced the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, a bill that would grant Medicare the ability to reimburse in regards to immunizations, preventive screenings, and chronic disease management and recognize pharmacists as healthcare providers in "medically underserved areas" through an amendment of title XVIII of the Social Security Act.
In December 2017, along with Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Tammy Baldwin, Collins was one of three senators to sign a letter to Strongbridge Biopharma CEO Matthew Pauls that stated their commitment "to combatting sudden astronomical price increases as well as any anticompetitive conduct and attempts to game the regulatory process at the expense of Americans in need of life-saving therapies." The senators requested the company alleviate the price increase on Keveyis and provide compliance to relevant laws and a written response related to their acquisition of dichlorphenamide.
In January 2019, Collins sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services citing a The Wall Street Journal article that reported how over three dozen pharmaceutical companies raised the price of hundreds of drugs on New Year's Day and requested that the department take action in regards to a Trump administration pledge to alter drug rebates. Collins wrote that the price increases were "shocking, but they are unfortunately not unusual, nor are they unexpected" and of the potential necessity of legislation to reform the drug rebates system.
In February 2019, Collins was a cosponsor of the Creating and Restoring Equal Access To Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act of 2019, a bipartisan bill preventing brand-name pharmaceutical and biologic companies from stifling competition through blockage of the entry of lower-cost generic drugs into the market. The CREATES Act was placed on the U.S. Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders.
In June 2019, when Collins and other members of the Problem Solvers Caucus announced guiding principles as a framework for legislation related to lowering the costs of prescription drugs, she said in part, "I look forward to working with our partners in the House to pass legislation to help Americans facing exorbitant costs for the medications they need, particularly seniors, 90 percent of whom take a prescription drug."
In July 2019, Collins introduced the Anti-Spoofing Penalties Modernization Act of 2019, a bill that would double the penalties for robocalling from $10,000 to $20,000 upon violation and increase the maximum fine from $1 million to $2 million. Collins reflected on the 93 million robocalls received in her home state of Maine the previous year and asserted that ending illegal robocalls would "take an aware public, aggressive action by regulators and law enforcement agencies, and a coordinated effort at every level of our telecommunications industry", citing the Anti-Spoofing Penalties Modernization Act as an important tool in this effort.
United States Postal ServiceEdit
In March 2019, Collins was a cosponsor of a bipartisan resolution led by Gary Peters and Jerry Moran that opposed privatization of the United States Postal Service (USPS), citing the USPS as an establishment that was self-sustained and noting concerns that a potential privatization could cause higher prices and reduced services for customers of USPS with a particular occurrence in rural communities.
In May 2005, Collins was one of fourteen senators (seven Democrats and seven Republicans) to forge a compromise on the Democrats' use of the judicial filibuster, thus allowing the Republican leadership to end debate without having to exercise the nuclear option. Under the agreement, the minority party agreed that it would filibuster President George W. Bush's judicial nominees only in "extraordinary circumstances"; three Bush appellate court nominees (Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen, and William Pryor) would receive a vote by the full Senate; and two others, Henry Saad and William Myers, were expressly denied such protection (both eventually withdrew their names from consideration).
Collins voted for the confirmation of George W. Bush Supreme Court nominees Samuel Alito and John G. Roberts, as well Barack Obama Supreme Court nominees Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.
After President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, Collins publicly opposed the Senate Republican leadership's decision to refuse to consider the nomination, and urged her Republican colleagues to "follow regular order" and give Garland a confirmation hearing and a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee in the normal fashion.
In 2017, Collins voted for the confirmation of President Trump's nomination of John K. Bush for Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. During his confirmation hearings it was disclosed that he had authored pseudonymous blog posts in which he disparaged gay rights, compared abortion to slavery, and linked to articles on right-wing conspiracy theory websites.
In 2017 and 2018, Collins was one of two Senate Republicans (the other being Lisa Murkowski) who were opposed to efforts by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Senate Republican leadership to change the Senate's rules in order to speed up Senate confirmation of President Donald Trump's judicial nominees.
Also in 2018, Collins was one of three Republican Senators, along with Jeff Flake (Arizona) and Murkowski, who supported an FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations made against Trump's second Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. She later announced her decision to vote in favor of his confirmation, stating that the "presumption of innocence" should be retained regarding Kavanaugh's sexual assault allegations and that she did not believe he would overturn Roe v. Wade. Her vote sparked opposition, including fundraising for her next hypothetical opponent, and increased speculation about possible Democratic challengers in 2020. Collins stated that she felt "vindication" in December 2018 when Kavanaugh voted with the court's liberal justices to decline to hear two cases against Planned Parenthood, thus allowing lower court rulings in favor of Planned Parenthood to stand. However, in February 2019, Kavanaugh voted to uphold a Louisiana abortion law which effectively shuttered most of the state's abortion clinics (the law was blocked by the Court's majority).
Collins endorsed another controversial judicial nominee in 2018: Thomas Farr, whose federal court nomination by President Trump was controversial due to his support for North Carolina laws that were ruled to be discriminatory toward African-American voters.
In March 2019, Collins became the first Republican to announce opposition to Chad Readler's nomination for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, citing his "role in the government's failure to defend provisions under current law that protect individuals with pre-existing conditions". In May 2019, she was the only Republican to vote against the confirmation of Wendy Vitter as a federal judge citing controversial statements that Vitter had made about abortion as well as her declining to say whether Brown v. Board was rightly decided. She also opposed the nomination of Matthew Kacsmaryk as a district judge over his opposition to LGBTQ rights and his comments against abortion rights. She was the only Republican to vote against advancing the nomination of Kacsmryk.
By June 2019, Collins, who has stated that she is pro-choice, had supported more than 90% of President Trump's judicial nominees. 32 of these judges had indicated that they opposed abortion rights, according to the abortion rights organization NARAL. A spokeswoman for Collins said that Collins has voted for 90% of both Democratic and Republican nominees and that she ignores the personal beliefs of judicial nominees, but considers if they "can set aside these beliefs and rule fairly and impartially."
Immigration and tradeEdit
Collins has voted against free-trade agreements including the Dominican Republic – Central America Free Trade Agreement. In 1999 she was one of four Republicans (along with her colleague Olympia Snowe) to vote for a Wellstone amendment to the Trade and Development Act of 2000 which would have conditioned trade benefits for Caribbean countries on "compliance with internationally recognized labor rights".
Collins coauthored, along with Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT/I-CT), the Collins-Lieberman Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. This law implemented many of the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission, modernizing and improving America's intelligence systems. In October 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law major port security legislation coauthored by Collins and Washington Senator Patty Murray. The new law includes major provisions to significantly strengthen security at US ports.
As ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Collins and committee Chairman Joe Lieberman voiced concerns about budget, outside contractors, privacy and civil liberties relating to the National Cybersecurity Center, the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative and United States Department of Homeland Security plans to enhance Einstein, the program which protects federal networks. Citing improved security and the benefits of information sharing, as of mid-2008, Collins was satisfied with the response the committee received from Secretary Michael Chertoff.
In 2007, she voted against the McCain-Kennedy proposal which would have given amnesty to undocumented immigrants. In 2010, Collins voted against the DREAM Act. However, in 2013, Collins was one of fourteen Republicans who voted in favor of a comprehensive immigration bill that included border security and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
In November 2014, following President Obama's decision to achieve immigration reform through executive action with a plan to give deportation relief to as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants, Collins stated that the president was "a huge mistake from both the political and policy perspective" and that members of his own party agreed with her.
In 2016, Collins cosponsored a bill requiring the Department of Homeland Security evaluate security threats at the northern border and said that it would mandate the federal government to consider tools border security officials would need in the prevention of drug and human trafficking.
Collins criticized President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order to ban entry to the U.S. to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, stating: "The worldwide refugee ban set forth in the executive order is overly broad and implementing it will be immediately problematic." In 2018, Susan Collins co-sponsored bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform which would have granted a pathway to citizenship to 1.8 million Dreamers while also giving $25 billion to border security; at the same time, Collins voted against the McCain/Coons proposal for a pathway to citizenship without funding for a border wall as well as against the Republican proposal backed by Trump to reduce and restrict legal immigration.
When President Trump and Jeff Sessions announced a 'zero-tolerance' policy on migrants at the border and separated children from parents, Susan Collins opposed the move and urged Trump to "put an end" to the separation of families. She said that separating children from parents at the border is "inconsistent with American values." However, she said that she did not support the Democratic bill to stop the separation of families and said that she instead supports the bipartisan bill she proposed in February to give a pathway to citizenship for 2 million undocumented immigrants and provide $25 billion in border security. In 2019, she introduced bipartisan legislation to oppose Trump's declaration emergency at the southern border in order to build a wall. She was one of a dozen Republicans who broke with their party, joining all Democrats, to vote for the resolution rejecting the emergency declaration.
In October 2018, following President Trump announcing his intent to issue an executive order that would revoking birthright citizenship for the children of noncitizens and unauthorized immigrants born in the United States, Collins stated that she disagreed entirely with the planned executive order and that anyone born in the US was an American. Collins speculated that the executive order would be subject to a court challenge and the order would be invalidated by the courts.
In June 2019, Collins and fellow Maine senator Angus King released a joint statement confirming that they had questioned U.S. Customs and Border Protection "on the process being used to clear" asylum seekers for transportation to Portland, Maine and opined that it was "clearly not a sustainable approach to handling the asylum situation." Collins and King were said to both be "interested in providing additional resources to the federal agencies that process asylum claims, so we can reduce the existing backlog and adjudicate new claims in a more timely fashion."
Susan Collins had a mixed record on the Bush tax cuts. In 2004, she joined other "Senate moderates -- John McCain of Arizona, Olympia J. Snowe...of Maine, and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island" in opposing how the Bush administration wanted to implement the tax cuts. The four Republicans cited deficit concerns as a reason for opposing the tax cut plans. Collins voted in favor of and for the extension of the Bush tax cuts in 2003 and 2006.
She offered an amendment to the original bill that allowed for tax credits to school teachers who purchase classroom materials.
Ultimately, Collins was one of just three Republican lawmakers to vote for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, earning heated criticism from the right for crossing party lines on the bill.
In mid-December 2009, she was again one of three Republican senators to back a $1.1 trillion appropriations bill for the fiscal year beginning in 2010, joining Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi) and Kit Bond (R-Missouri) in compensating for three Democratic "nay" votes to pass the bill over a threatened GOP filibuster.
In May 2011, Collins was one of seventeen senators to sign a letter to Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler requesting a regulatory crackdown on speculative Wall Street trading in oil contracts, asserting that they had entered "a time of economic emergency for many American families" while noting that the average retail price of regular grade gasoline was $3.95 nationwide. The senators requested that the CFTC adopt speculation limits in regard to markets where contracts for future delivery of oil are traded.
In February 2012, after Senate leaders reached a compromise to lower the threshold for the number of votes needed to pass bills, Collins was one of fourteen Republican senators to vote for legislation that extended a 2 percentage-point cut in the payroll tax for the remainder of the year and provided an extension of federal unemployment benefits along with preventing doctors' payments under Medicare from being cut.
In April 2014, the United States Senate debated the Minimum Wage Fairness Act (S. 1737; 113th Congress). The bill would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) to increase the federal minimum wage for employees to $10.10 per hour over the course of a two-year period. The bill was strongly supported by President Barack Obama and many of the Democratic Senators, but strongly opposed by Republicans in the Senate and House. Collins tried to negotiate a compromise bill that centrist Republicans could agree to, but was unable to do so.
Collins tried to argue that the Congressional Budget Office report predicting 500,000 jobs lost if the minimum wage was increased to $10.10 also said that an increase to $9.00 would only lead to 100,000 jobs lost, but the argument did not seem to persuade her fellow centrists. She said, "I'm confident that the votes are not there to pass a minimum wage increase up to $10.10 therefore it seems to me to make sense for senators on both sides of the aisle to get together and see if we can come up with a package that would help low-income families with causing the kind of job loss that the Congressional Budget Office has warned against."
Collins announced that she's opposed to cutting the tax rate for income earners making more than $1 million a year and opposed to eliminating the estate tax. She stated that she does not see a need to eliminate the estate tax. She was also one of two Republicans to vote with Democrats against budget cuts.
In December 2017, Collins voted to pass the 2017 Republican tax plan. The bill would greatly reduce corporate taxes, reduce taxes for some individuals but increase them for other individuals by removing some popular deductions, and increase the deficit. The bill also repeals the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, which would leave 13 million Americans uninsured and raise premiums by an estimated additional 10% per year. After the vote, Collins said that she received assurances from congressional leaders that they would pass legislation intended to mitigate some of the adverse effects of the repeal of the individual mandate. When asked how she could vote for a bill that would raise the deficit by an estimated $1 trillion (over ten years) after having railed against the deficit during the Obama administration, Collins insisted that the tax plan would not raise the deficit. She said she had been advised in this determination by economists Glenn Hubbard, Larry Lindsey, and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, but Hubbard and Holtz-Eakin later denied stating that the plan would not increase the deficit.
In March 2018, Collins and fellow Maine senator Angus King introduced the Northern Border Regional Commission Reauthorization Act, a bill that would bolster the Northern Border Regional Commission and was included in the 2018 United States farm bill. In June 2019, when Collins and King announced the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) would award grant funding to the University of Maine, the senators called the funding an investment in the forest economy of Maine that would "help those who have relied on this crucial sector for generations" and "bolster efforts by UMaine to open more opportunities in rural communities."
In May 2018, Collins was one of twelve senators to sign a letter to Chairman of the Federal Labor Relations Authority Colleen Kiko urging the FLRA to end efforts to close its Boston regional office until Congress debated the matter, furthering that the FLRA closing down its seven regional offices would cause staff to be placed farther away from the federal employees they protect the rights of.
On December 6, 2018, Senator Collins cast the deciding vote to make Kathy Kraninger the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which cleared the United States Senate by a margin of 50-49, with all 50 present Republicans voting in support and all 49 Democrats voting in opposition.
In January 2019, Collins voted for both Republican and Democratic bills to end a government shutdown. She was one of six Republicans to break with their party and vote for the Democratic proposal. Later that month, after President Trump signed a bill reopening the government for three weeks, Collins stated that the shutdown had not accomplished anything and advocated for Congress to pass a spending measure funding the government for the remainder of the fiscal year. She further stated that they "cannot have the threat of a government shutdown hanging over our people and our economy." In March, Collins was the only Republican senator to sign a letter opining that contractor workers and by extension their families "should not be penalized for a government shutdown that they did nothing to cause" while noting that there were bills in both chambers of Congress that if enacted would provide back pay to compensate contractor employees for lost wages before urging the Appropriations Committee "to include back pay for contractor employees in a supplemental appropriations bill for FY2019 or as part of the regular appropriations process for FY2020."
In March 2019, after President Trump proposed a 4.7 trillion budget that reduced domestic spending by 5 percent while increasing defense spending by 4 percent to $750 billion and included $8.6 billion for his proposed border wall, Collins stated that they needed to "come together and decide on a new package for what the spending caps are going to be" and there would a be a reset to the Budget Control Act of 2011 if the proposed budget's spending caps were not reset.
In April 2019, Collins, Shelly Moore Capito, and Chris Coons introduced the Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act of 2019, a bill that would further development of new and innovative chemicals, products and processes and also focus on the uses of resources in an efficient manner and reducing or abolishing exposure to hazardous substances. Collins commented that the bill would authorize grants and training and educational opportunities for scientists and engineers.
In May 2019, Collins, Angus King, and Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander joined Assistant Secretary in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel Simmons and Maine officials in announcing the formation of a research collaboration between the University of Maine and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to advance attempts to 3D print using wood products. Collins stated that the initiative was a win for all parties involved that would "bolster the cutting-edge research performed at the University of Maine as well as support job creation in our state" and called the project "an outstanding example of our national labs working cooperatively with universities to drive American innovation and strengthen our economy."
In 2019, Collins worked with Democrat Kyrsten Sinema on the Senior Security Act, legislation intended to form a task force at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that would "examine and identify challenges facing senior investors" and report its findings to Congress along with recommended regulatory or statutory changes every two years.
In 2019, while President Trump and top aides met with Republican leadership for discussions about avoiding a budget debacle that fall, Collins observed, "A lot of the cuts that they made in the president's budget were arbitrary and made without any consultation at all. An example would be zeroing out the Community Development Block Grant fund." She added that the aforementioned fund was the one most requested by members of the Appropriations panel to fund.
In June 2019, Collins and Democrat Tom Carper introduced a bill they described as combatting "problems federal firefighters face when they try to prove their injuries took place in the line of duty" and stated that federal laws have placed burdens on federal firefighters so that they have to prove cancers and other diseases were the result of exposure during their work.
In July 2007, after the Senate voted 95 to 0 to boost the amount of federal aid low-income student can receive and undo some conflicts of interest for the student-loan industry, Collins stated that the reauthorization "brings back a balance between [lender] subsidies and financial aid" due to removing some funds away from lenders but not cutting them out completely from the system and that private lenders were "healthy for the marketplace."
In June 2014, along with Bob Corker and Lisa Murkowski, Collins was one of three Republicans to vote for the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, a Democratic proposal authored by Elizabeth Warren that would authorize more than 25 million people to refinance their student loans into lower interest rates of less than 4 percent. The bill received 56 votes and was successfully blocked by Republicans.
In September 2017, along with Republican Rob Portman and Democrats Bob Casey, Jr. and Tammy Baldwin, Collins cosponsored a bipartisan bill that would extend the Perkins Loan Program by two years when it was then set to expire by the end of the month. Collins noted that in her state "more than 4,000 students received a Perkins Loan last year, providing nearly $8.6 million in aid," and that the extension would "provide students in Maine and across our country with the critical certainty required to plan for and afford higher education."
In February 2019, Collins was one of twenty senators to sponsor the Employer Participation in Repayment Act, enabling employers to contribute up to $5,250 to the student loans of their employees as a means of granting employees relief and incentivizing applicants to apply to jobs with employers who implement the policy.
In April 1997, Collins was one of seven Republicans cosponsoring legislation introduced by Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch that would provide children's health insurance by raising the cigarette tax. Along with Ted Stevens and Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Collins stated her disapproval for the component increasing taxes on cigarettes and a spokesman of hers said she would find other ways to raise funds for the insurance.
Collins opposed President Barack Obama's health reform legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and voted against it in December 2009. She voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. Senate Republicans made an effort to delay or kill the health care legislation through a filibuster of the defense spending bill, however the filibuster was defeated and Collins was one of three Republicans who voted with Democrats to end the filibuster.
With the passage of the Obama administration-supported 21st Century Cures Act in December 2016, legislation increasing funding for disease research while addressing flaws in the American mental health systems and altering drugs and medical devices' regulatory system, Collins stated, "I doubt that there is a family in America who will not be touched by this important legislation."
In January 2017, at the beginning of the Congress, Collins voted in favor of a bill to begin the repeal of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"). However, with four other Republican senators, Collins is leading an effort to slow down the ACA repeal in the Senate. Collins and fellow Republican Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana have proposed legislation that permits states to either keep the ACA or move to a replacement program to be funded in part by the federal government. In January 2017, Collins "was the only Republican to vote for a defeated amendment...that would have prevented the Senate from adopting legislation cutting Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid."
In March 2017, Collins said that she could not support the American Health Care Act, the House Republicans' plan to repeal and replace the ACA. Collins announced she would vote against the Senate version of the Republican bill to repeal Obamacare. Collins has also clarified that she is against repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement proposal.
On July 26, 2017, Collins was one of seven Republicans in voting against repealing the ACA without a suitable replacement. On July 27 the following day, Collins joined two other Republicans in voting 'No' to the 'Skinny' repeal of the ACA.
In August 2017, Collins and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen sent a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma requesting CMS offer Medicare coverage for clinically appropriate treatment, opining that the effectiveness of diabetes management was "crucial to holding down health care costs and helping seniors manage their diabetes successfully to allow them to continue to live healthy and productive lives" and urged the CMS to conduct a "careful review of Medicare coverage policies for patch pumps and other life-saving therapies for diabetes, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, and to review the procedures at CMS that have resulted in these disparities in coverage."
In October 2017, Collins called for President Trump to support a bipartisan Congressional effort led by Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray to reinstate insurer payments, stating that what Trump was doing was "affecting people's access and the cost of health care right now".
In December 2017, Collins voted for a tax bill that repealed the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, which the CBO estimates would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 13 million while causing higher health care premiums for those who remain insured. Collins made a deal with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, trading her opposition to repealing the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate provision, in exchange for legislation that would financially stabilize the remaining health insurance program. "But after Collins voted for the tax reform package, McConnell reneged and never brought the stabilization bill up for a vote. In 2018, she was the only Republican who voted with Democrats on a resolution, that ultimately did not pass, against the "low cost, low coverage" insurance plans allowed by an executive order of President Trump.
In June 2018, Collins and fellow Maine Senator Angus King released a statement endorsing a proposal by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai intended to boost funding for the Rural Health Care Program of the Universal Service Fund. stating that "with demand for RHC funding continuing to rise, any further inaction would risk leaving rural healthcare practitioners without lifesaving telemedicine services. This long-overdue funding increase would be a boon to both healthcare providers and patients in rural communities across our country."
In December 2018, Collins criticized the decision by a judge to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Asked if she regretted voting for the Republican tax reform of 2017 which zeroed out the individual mandate of the ACA and was used as a justification for the judge's ruling, Collins said she did not regret it.
In March 2019, Collins, Shelly Moore Capito, and Debbie Stabenow introduced the Improving Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer's Act, legislation mandating the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) conduct outreach to health care practitioners regarding several Alzheimer's disease care services and benefits and would be followed by HHS reporting on the rates of utilization of the services and barriers to access.
In April 2019, in response to the Justice Department announcing that it would side with a ruling by U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor of the position that the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate was unconstitutional and the rest of law was thereby invalid, Collins sent a letter to United States Attorney General William Barr expressing her disappointment with the decision and that the department's support for the ruling put "critical consumer provisions" of the ACA at risk. She opined that the Trump administration "should not attempt to use the courts to bypass Congress."
In a May 2019 letter to Attorney General Barr, Collins and Democrat Joe Manchin wrote that the Affordable Care Act "is quite simply the law of the land, and it is the Administration's and your Department's duty to defend it" and asserted that Congress could "work together to fix legislatively the parts of the law that aren't working" without letting the position of a federal court "stand and devastate millions of seniors, young adults, women, children and working families."
On May 21, 2019, Collins and Democrat Tammy Duckworth introduced the Veterans Preventive Health Coverage Fairness Act, legislation that would eliminate out-of-pocket costs for preventive health medications and prescription drugs along with introducing preventive medications and services to the list of no-fee treatments covered by the Veterans Affairs Department. Collins said the bill "would protect patients from experiencing serious illnesses that are costly to treat and promote the health and well-being of our veterans" through abolishing the copayment requirement related to preventive health care.
In September 2008, Collins joined the Gang of 20, a bipartisan group seeking a comprehensive energy reform bill. The group is pushing for a bill that would encourage state-by-state decisions on offshore drilling and authorize billions of dollars for conservation and alternative energy.
In September 2010, Collins backed a bill introduced by Senate Energy Committee Chair Jeff Bingaman and Sam Brownback that would establish a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) requiring the generation of 15 percent renewable power through utilities by 2021. The legislation was said by President of the United Steelworkers union Leo Gerard to "protect and create hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs and keep America in the clean energy race."
The Carbon Limits and Energy for America's Renewal (CLEAR) Act (S. 2877), also called the Cantwell-Collins bill, would have directed the Secretary of the Treasury "to establish a program to regulate the entry of fossil carbon into commerce in the United States to promote renewable energy, jobs and economic growth."
In November 2011, as the Obama administration drew condemnation from Republicans over the president's climate policy, Collins was one of six Republicans to vote against a resolution by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul that would overturn the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which mandated a reduction in smog and particulate-forming pollution through plants in 27 states.
In February 2017, Collins was the only Republican to vote against the Congressional Review Act (CRA) challenge undoing the Stream Protection Rule of the Interior Department. It was the first attempt by the Trump administration to undo an environmental regulation imposed by the Obama administration.
In February 2017, Collins was the only Senate Republican to vote against confirmation of Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Fourteen months later, on CNN's "State of the Union," she said regarding his actions as the EPA head, "whether it's trying to undermine the Clean Power Plan or weaken the restrictions on lead or undermine the methane rules," his behavior has validated her "no" vote.
In May 2017, Collins was one of three Republicans who joined Democrats in voting against a repeal of Obama's regulations for drilling on public lands; the repeal effort was rejected by a 49-51 margin.
In September 2017, along with Lamar Alexander, Collins was one of two Republican senators on the Senate Appropriations Committee to vote for an amendment by Jeff Merkley restoring funding for the U.N.'s Framework Convention on Climate Change in the appropriations bill of the State Department that had been given annually by the US since 1992 and that President Trump had advocated for ending in his first budget proposal earlier that year.
In September 2017, Collins and John Hoeven sent a letter to United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price in which they called the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program "the main federal program that helps low-income households and seniors with their energy bills, providing critical assistance during the cold winter and hot summer months" and advocated for the program to be distributed as quickly as possible.
On February 28, 2019, Collins was the only Republican senator to vote against the confirmation of Andrew Wheeler as EPA administrator, Collins in a statement saying she believed Wheeler was qualified for the position but she also had "too many concerns with the actions he has taken during his tenure as Acting Administrator to be able to support his promotion."
Also on February 28, 2019, Collins and fellow Maine Senator Angus King introduced the Biomass Thermal Utilization (BTU) Act, legislation intended to amend the federal tax code in order to incentivize energy efficient wood boilers, stoves and heaters usage through tax credits for capital costs incurred in both residential and commercial installations. Collins remarked that wood biomass was "a cost-effective, renewable, and environmentally friendly source of energy that helps individuals heat their homes in the winter months and creates jobs here in Maine" and that the bill "would encourage the use of highly efficient biomass heating systems" through its tax treatment of biomass thermal energy technologies in the same manner of other renewable energy forms.
In March 2019, Collins and Lisa Murkowski were the only Republican senators to sign a letter to the Trump administration advocating for the inclusion of funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which they credited with helping "to ensure that eligible recipients do not have to choose between paying their energy bills and affording other necessities like food and medicine", and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) in the fiscal year 2020 budget proposal.
In March 2019, in response to the EPA releasing a proposal that would revoke findings asserting the necessity of mercury emissions regulations the previous December, Collins was one of six senators to send a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler criticizing the proposal and expressing the position that evidence showed the effectiveness of the Mercury Rule.
In March 2019 Collins joined all Senate Republicans, three Democrats, and Angus King in voting against the Green New Deal resolution, a proposal that strove for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the US and the creation of millions of high wage jobs.
In April 2019, Collins was one of four senators to sponsor a bill granting a $7,000 tax credit to the next 400,000 buyers after an initial cap on vehicles from an automaker that exceeds 200,000 sales is hit. Collins argued in a statement that the legislation "would continue the momentum towards cleaner transportation and help tackle harmful transportation emissions."
In May 2019, Collins was one of six senators to sponsor a bill authorizing "the use of biomass from certain federal lands needing ecological restoration in the making of renewable fuels to promote healthier forests, more carbon sequestration, cleaner transportation fuels and strong protections for old-growth forests."
In June 2019, Collins was a sponsor of the Financing Our Energy Future Act, legislation that would make "biomass; renewable fuels; biorefineries; fuel cells; combined-heat-and-power (CHP); carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS); solar; wind, marine and hydrokinetic energy; energy storage; waste heat-to-power; and energy efficient buildings" eligible for master limited partnerships.
In June 2019, Collins was one of eight senators to cosponsor the bipartisan Save our Seas 2.0 Act, a bill unveiled by Dan Sullivan and Bob Menendez intended to spur innovation along with aiding in the reduction plastic waste's creation and both find ways to use already existing plastic waste to stop it from entering the oceans and address this problem on a global scale. The bill was meant to respond to the plastic pollution crisis threatening oceans, shorelines, marine life, and coastal economies and served as a continuation of the Save Our Seas Act.
In July 2019, Collins and Democrat Tammy Duckworth introduced the Sensible, Timely Relief for America’s Nuclear Districts’ Economic Development (STRANDED) Act, a bill that would give economic impact grants to local government entities for the purpose of offsetting economic impacts of stranded nuclear waste in addition to forming a task force that would identify funding which already exists that could be used to benefit its respective community and form a competitive innovative solutions prize competition to aid those communities in their search for alternatives to "nuclear facilities, generating sites, and waste sites." Collins said the bill would "take interim steps to assist these adversely impacted communities" while stating the requirement of the federal government to move forward with a lasting solution for nuclear waste under lawful means.
In July 2019, along with Democrats Chris Coons, Jeanne Shaheen, and Jack Reed, Collins was one of four senators and the only Republican to sponsor of a bill to extend the Weatherization Assistance Program through 2024, lauding the program as a "cost-effective way to reduce energy usage and cut low-income homeowners’ energy bills for the long-term."
Collins voted for the Manchin–Toomey bill to amend federal law to expand background checks for gun purchases. She did vote against a ban of high-capacity magazines over 10 bullets. She has received a C+ grade on gun rights from the NRA, and D- from Gun Owners of America.
In 2018, Collins was a cosponsor of the NICS Denial Notification Act, legislation developed in the aftermath of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that would require federal authorities to inform states within a day of a prohibited person attempting to buy a firearm failing the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Collins noted Maine as one of thirty-seven states where a prohibited person attempting to buy a firearm is not subject to law enforcement being required to be notified of the attempted purchase and promoted the bill as aiding the prevention of "dangerous people" obtaining illegal firearms while preserving the rights of law abiding gun owners.
In February 2019, Collins supported the Terrorist Firearms Prevention Act, legislation enabling the attorney general to deny the sale of a firearm to individuals on the no-fly list or selectee list that subject airline passengers to more screening. Collins stated, "If you are considered to be too dangerous to fly on an airplane, you should not be able to buy a firearm. This bill is a sensible step we can take right now to reform our nation's gun laws while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans."
In June 2004, Collins voted for a proposal increasing the maximum penalty the Federal Communications Commission could issue in response to decency violations on television and radio from 27,500 to 275,000 and setting a limit of $3 million for a violation either receiving or producing multiple complaints.
In April 2014, the United States Senate debated the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199; 113th Congress). It was a bill that "punishes employers for retaliating against workers who share wage information, puts the justification burden on employers as to why someone is paid less and allows workers to sue for punitive damages of wage discrimination." Collins voted against ending debate on the bill, saying that one of her reasons for doing so was that Majority Leader Harry Reid had refused to allow votes on any of the amendments that Republicans had suggested for the bill.
In 2015, as part of the fiscal year 2016 budget of the Obama administration, the United States Department of Veteran Affairs proposed congressional authorization for consent to spend $6.8 million that would go toward leasing a 56,600 square feet at an unspecified location in Portland, Maine for the purpose of expanding a clinic that would authorize southern Maine veterans to receive basic medical and mental health care locally. Collins supported the proposal, releasing a statement alongside Angus King in which they said that ensuring Maine veterans had access to high quality care "is one of our top priorities, and we’re pursuing the input of local veterans and interested stakeholders to understand their perspective about the proposal."
In September 2016, Collins and Democrat Mark Warner unveiled a bill that directed the Departments of Labor and Treasury to authorize employers and sole-proprietors to file one form for the satisfaction of reporting requirements as opposed to forms for each individual plan. Collins stated in a press release that Americans were not "saving enough to be able to afford a comfortable retirement" and cited an estimate by the Center for Retirement Research that there was roughly a $7.7 trillion gap between the funds Americans have saved for retirement and what they actually need.
In January 2017, both Collins and Senator Lisa Murkowski voted for Donald Trump's selection for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, within the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, passing DeVos' nomination by a vote of 12–11 to allow the full Senate to vote on the nominee. Collins justified her support vote due to her belief that "Presidents are entitled to considerable deference in the selection of Cabinet members". Later, Collins and Murkowski became the only Republicans to break party lines and vote against the nominee. This caused a 50–50 tie that was broken by Senate President Mike Pence to successfully confirm DeVos' appointment.
Another noted involvement in the Trump Cabinet confirmation process for Collins was her formal introduction of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to the Judiciary Committee for its hearings on Sessions' nomination to be Attorney General.
On December 14, 2017, the same day that the FCC was set to hold a vote on net neutrality, Collins, along with Angus King, sent a letter to the FCC asking that the vote be postponed so as to allow for public hearings on the merits of repealing net neutrality. Collins and King expressed concerns that repealing net neutrality could adversely affect the US economy. As part of this drive, Collins is reported to support using the authority under the Congressional Review Act to nullify the FCC's repeal vote. In 2018, Collins was one of three Republicans voting with Democrats to repeal rule changes enacted by the Republican-controlled FCC. The measure was meant to restore Obama-era net neutrality rules.
In February 2019, Collins was one of twenty-five senators to serve as original cosponsors to the Restore Our Parks Act, a bill that would create the National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund as part of an effort to reduce the maintenance backlog through existing revenues received by the government for on and offshore energy development being allocated and the funding being derived from 50 percent of all revenues not otherwise being allocated in addition to being deposited into the General Treasury that do not exceed $1.3 billion every year for the following five years.
In June 2019, Collins and Democrat Doug Jones cosponsored the American Broadband Buildout Act of 2019, a bill that requested 5 billion for a matching funds program that the Federal Communications Commission would administer to "give priority to qualifying projects," the bill also mandating that at least 15% of funding go to high-cost and geographically challenged areas. The legislation also authorized recipients of the funding form "public awareness" and "digital literacy" campaigns to further awareness of the "value and benefits of broadband internet access service" and served as a companion to the Broadband Data Improvement Act.
In June 2019, Collins was one of thirty-three senators to cosponsor legislation that would establish a "National Post-Traumatic Stress Awareness Day" on June 27 in addition to designating the month of June as "National Post-Traumatic Stress Awareness Month." Kevin Cramer, a cosponsor of the bill, said June being designated as "National Post-Traumatic Stress Awareness Month shines a light on the resources available to veterans and reaffirms our commitment to ensuring they receive the care and assistance they need."
Collins introduced a bill in June 2013 that would define a "full-time employee" as someone who works for 40 hours per week (instead of 30 hours). The Affordable Care Act (ACA) defined a full-time worker as someone who works 30 hours per week. Collins is cited as saying that her bill would help avoid employers reducing workers' hours to below 30 per week in order to comply with the ACA.
In September 2013, Collins introduced a bill aimed at preventing Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome (SUIDS). The bill, dubbed The Child Care Infant Mortality Prevention Act, aims to raise the amount of provider training in infant wards as well as enhanced CPR and first aid training. Backers of this bill hope this will make a dent in the 4,000 children killed every year due to SUIDS. This would require the Health and Human Services Department to update their materials as well as improve their training resources to primary providers.
In May 2019, Collins introduced the TICK Act with Democrat Tina Smith, legislation devoting over a $100 million in new federal spending to address Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Collins noted in a Senate floor speech that tick-borne diseases had become a larger public health issue in the last 15 years and presented a "grave risks to our public health and serious harm to our families and communities".
- United States Senate Committee on Appropriations
- Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
- Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
- Subcommittee on Defense
- Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
- Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
- Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (Chair)
- Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
- Select Committee on Intelligence
- Special Committee on Aging (Chair)
Awards and honorsEdit
On September 19, 2012, Collins received the Navy League's Congressional Sea Services Award "for her outstanding contributions in Congress to advance the mission of our nation's maritime services".
On December 12, 2013, Collins received the "Legislator of the Year Award" from the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI). CFSI, a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy institute established in 1989 which seeks to promote Congress' awareness of the needs of first responders, presented the award to Collins in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. The Award is given to a member of Congress who the organization deems to have made a "significant contribution to the fire service."
On February 24, 2014, Collins received the "Thought Leader Award" from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The award recognizes and honors American leaders who "affirm the essential services that public media provides to citizens in areas of education, journalism, and the arts."
On May 7, 2014, National Journal recognized Collins as the senator with "perfect attendance", noting that Collins hadn't missed a single vote since her election to the Senate in 1997.
Collins was a recipient of the Publius Award from the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress on March 12, 2014.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars gave Collins its 2017 Congressional Award, which is annually given to one member of Congress for their significant legislative contributions on behalf of military veterans.
For the period 2013 to 2018, Collins's top three donors (in descending order) are General Dynamics (defense/weapons industry), Cohen Group (business advisory firm providing corporate leadership with strategic advice and assistance in business development, regulatory affairs, deal sourcing, and capital raising activities), and Elliott Management (financial industry: investment management firm ... the largest activist fund in the world)
Collins is married to Thomas Daffron, a lobbyist at Jefferson Consulting Group, a lobbying and consulting firm in Washington D.C. They were married on August 11, 2012, at the Gray Memorial United Methodist Church in Caribou, Maine. She identifies as a member of the Catholic Church.
|Democratic||Joseph E. Brennan||172,951||34%|
|Democratic||Joseph E. Brennan||266,226||43.9%|
|Taxpayers||William P. Clarke||18,618||3.1%|
|Republican||Susan Collins (incumbent)||299,266||58.4%|
|Republican||Susan Collins (incumbent)||444,587||61.5%|
|Republican||Susan Collins (incumbent)||411,211||68.4%||+6.9%|
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- Senator Collins official Senate website
- Susan Collins for Senate
- Column archive in Bangor Daily News
- Susan Collins at Curlie
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress