Susan Margaret Collins (born December 7, 1952) is an American politician serving as the senior United States Senator for Maine. A Republican, Collins has served in the Senate since 1997.

Susan Collins
Susan Collins official Senate photo.jpg
United States Senator
from Maine
Assumed office
January 3, 1997
Serving with Angus King
Preceded byWilliam Cohen
Chair of the Senate Aging Committee
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Preceded byBill Nelson
Chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2007
Preceded byJoe Lieberman
Succeeded byJoe Lieberman
Personal details
Born
Susan Margaret Collins

(1952-12-07) December 7, 1952 (age 66)
Caribou, Maine, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)
Thomas Daffron (m. 2012)
ParentsDonald Collins
Patricia McGuigan
RelativesSamuel Collins (uncle)
EducationSt. Lawrence University (BA)
WebsiteSenate website

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)[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[5][6]

Early lifeEdit

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.[7] Her parents, Patricia (née McGuigan) and Donald F. Collins (1925-2018), each served as mayor of Caribou.[7] Her father, a decorated World War II vet, also served in the Maine Legislature (one term in the house and four in the senate).[8][9] Her mother was born in Barrancabermeja, Colombia, to American parents.[10] 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.[11]

Collins attended Caribou High School, where she was president of the student council.[12] 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.[12] After graduating from Caribou High School, she continued her education at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York.[13] 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.[14]

Early political careerEdit

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.[13] 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).[13]

In 1987, Collins joined the cabinet of Governor John R. McKernan, Jr., as Commissioner of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation.[14] She was appointed the New England regional director for the Small Business Administration by President George H. W. Bush in 1992.[9] 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.[13]

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.[9] 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.[15]

In December 1994, Collins became the founding executive director of the Center for Family Business at Husson College.[14] 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%.[16][citation needed]

Senate careerEdit

 
Collins with President Barack Obama

Collins was elected as the Senator from Maine in the 1996 senate election.

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.[citation needed]

Collins was described as one of "the last survivors of a once common species of moderate Northeastern Republican" during the Obama administration.[11] She is considered a centrist member of the Republican Party, and an influential player in the U.S. Senate.[17][18][19]

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).[20][21]

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.[11] 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.[22] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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".[23]

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."[24]

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.[25]

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.[26]

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."[27] President Bush signed Collins' bill, formally known as the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, on December 17, 2004.[28]

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).[29][30]

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.[31]

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."[32]

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.[33]

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.[34] The filibuster on Hagel's nomination was defeated,[35] and he was confirmed later that month.[36]

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."[37]

On March 26, 2014, Elle Magazine honored Collins as "one of the ten most powerful Women in Washington Power List".[38]

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.[39] 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.[40][41][42] Collins tried to negotiate a compromise bill that centrist Republicans could agree to, but was unable to do so.[42]

Collins cast her 6,000th consecutive roll call vote on September 17, 2015.[3] Only William Proxmire has a longer consecutive streak.[43]

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.[44] In July, 2018, Morning Consult showed Collins with a 56% approval rating, with 34% disapproving.[45] 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.[46] In January 2019, a Morning Consult poll showed her approval rating to be back up at 53% with 38% disapproving.[47] 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.[48]

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."[49]

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,[50] 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. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act was signed into law by President Obama on July 22, 2016.[51]

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."[52] She considered voting for the Libertarian Party's ticket or a write-in candidate.[53][54]

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".[55][56][57] Later, Collins and Murkowski became the only Republicans to break party lines and vote against the nominee.[58][59] This caused a 50–50 tie that was broken by Senate President Mike Pence to successfully confirm DeVos' appointment.[60]

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.[61] Collins announced she would vote against the Senate version of the Republican bill to repeal Obamacare.[62] Collins has also clarified that she is against repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement proposal.[63] On July 26, Collins was one of seven Republicans in voting against repealing the ACA without a suitable replacement.[64] On July 27 the following day, Collins joined two other Republicans in voting 'No' to the 'Skinny' repeal of the ACA.[65] In October, 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".[66]

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.[67] Collins and King expressed concerns that repealing net neutrality could adversely affect the US economy.[67] 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.[68] In 2018, Collins was one of three Republicans voting with Democrats to repeal rule changes enacted by the Republican-controlled FCC.[69] The measure was meant to restore Obama-era net neutrality rules.[70]

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.[71] A year later, 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."[72]

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.[73]

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.[74][75]

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.[76] 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.[77] 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.[78]

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.[79]

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.[80]

Political positionsEdit

 
With former US Senator Olympia Snowe (also R-ME)

Collins is a self-described "moderate Republican". She has occasionally been referred to as a "liberal Republican" relative to her colleagues.[81][82][83] 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.[84] Five ThirtyEight, which tracks Congressional votes, found that Collins voted with President Trump's positions about 69% of the time as of June, 2019.[85] She has voted with the GOP majority on party-line votes with much greater frequency during the Trump presidency than during the Obama presidency.[86]

EconomyEdit

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.[87] The four Republicans cited deficit concerns as a reason for opposing the tax cut plans.[87] Collins voted in favor of and for the extension of the Bush tax cuts in 2003 and 2006.[88][89][90] Ultimately, Collins was one of just three Republican lawmakers to vote for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,[91] earning heated criticism from the right for crossing party lines on the bill.

In December 2017, Collins voted to pass the 2017 Republican tax plan.[92] 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.[92] 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.[93][94] 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.[94] 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,[95][92] but Hubbard and Holtz-Eakin later denied stating that the plan would not increase the deficit.[96][97]

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.[98]

EnvironmentEdit

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.[99] In February 2017, she was the only Republican to vote against the Congressional Review Act (CRA) challenge undoing the Stream Protection Rule of the Interior Department, the first attempt by the Trump administration to undo an environmental regulation imposed by the Obama administration,[100] to vote against confirmation of Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.[101] 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."[102]

Foreign policyEdit

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.[103] 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.[104] 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.[105] 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.[106]

In September 2009, Collins stated that she was unsure if adding more American troops in Afghanistan was the solution to ending the Afghanistan War, but cited the need for "more American civilians to help build up institutions" and growth of the Afghan army.[107] In 2010, she called for the removal 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."[108] In August 2017, Collins commended President 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."[109]

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.[110] 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."[111]

In March 2015, 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.[112] She announced her opposition to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action later that year, panning the agreement as "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 Iran "will be a more dangerous and stronger nuclear threshold state" following the agreement's expiration.[113] In June 2019, after the United States nearly launched an air strike on Iran as a response to an American surveillance drone being downed by the latter country, 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".[114]

In March 2017, Collins co-sponsored the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S.270), which made it a federal crime, punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment,[115] for Americans to encourage or participate in boycotts against Israel and Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories if protesting actions by the Israeli government.[116]

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.[117] 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.[118] 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.[119] 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.[120]

Gun lawsEdit

Collins voted for the ManchinToomey bill to amend federal law to expand background checks for gun purchases.[121] She did vote against a ban of high-capacity magazines over 10 bullets.[122] She has received a C+ grade on gun rights from the NRA, and D- from Gun Owners of America.[123] In 2018, Collins was a cosponsor of the NICS Denial Notification Act,[124] 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.[125] 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.[126]

ImmigrationEdit

In 2007, she voted against the McCain-Kennedy proposal which would have given amnesty to undocumented immigrants.[127] In 2010, Collins voted against the DREAM Act.[128] 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.[129] She also opposed 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,[130] and 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."[131] In 2019, she introduced bipartisan legislation to oppose Trump's declaration emergency at the southern border in order to build a wall.[132] She was one of a dozen Republicans who broke with their party, joining all Democrats, to vote for the resolution rejecting the emergency declaration.[133]

Social issuesEdit

Collins is a pro-choice Republican.[134][135] The Republican Majority for Choice, a pro-choice Republican PAC, supports Senator Collins.[136] 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.[137][138] By June 2019, Collins 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, however, Collins' spokeswoman noted that Collins had also voted to confirm 90% of Democratic nominees including both of President Obama's Supreme Court appointments[139] 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.[140] She voted in favor of his confirmation of Trump's second Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, stating that she did not believe he would overturn Roe v. Wade.[141][142] 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.[143][144] 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).[145][146]

IIn 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.[147] 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."[148] 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.[149]

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.[150] On December 18, 2010, Collins voted in favor of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 and was the primary Republican sponsor of the repeal effort.[151][152][153][154][155] 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.[156] The Human Rights Campaign, which rates politicians' support for LGBT issues, gave Collins a score of 85% during the 114th Congress.[157] She received a 33% during the 115th Congress.[158] 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."[159] 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.[160][161][162]

Committee assignmentsEdit

Caucus membershipsEdit

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".[164]

Collins was awarded the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's 2013 Spirit of Enterprise Award for her support of the Chamber's positions in the Senate.[165]

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."[166]

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."[167]

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.[168]

Collins was a recipient of the Publius Award from the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress on March 12, 2014.[169]

On March 26, 2014, Elle Magazine honored Collins, with others, at the Italian Embassy in the United States during its annual "Women in Washington Power List."[170]

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.[171]

On May 28, 2017, Bates College honored Collins as an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for her bipartisan work in the Senate.[172]

DonorsEdit

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)[173]

Personal lifeEdit

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.[174][175] She identifies as a member of the Catholic Church.[176]

Electoral historyEdit

1994 Maine gubernatorial election
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Independent Angus King 180,829 35%
Democratic Joseph E. Brennan 172,951 34%
Republican Susan Collins 117,990 23%
Green Jonathan Carter 32,695 6% N/A
Write-In Ed Finks 6,576 1% N/A
United States Senate election in Maine, 1996
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Susan Collins 298,422 49.2%
Democratic Joseph E. Brennan 266,226 43.9%
Green John Rensenbrink 23,441 3.9%
Taxpayers William P. Clarke 18,618 3.1%
United States Senate election in Maine, 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Susan Collins (incumbent) 299,266 58.4%
Democratic Chellie Pingree 205,901 41.6%
United States Senate election in Maine, 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Susan Collins (incumbent) 444,587 61.5%
Democratic Tom Allen 278,651 38.5%
United States Senate election in Maine, 2014
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Susan Collins (incumbent) 411,211 68.4% +6.9%
Democratic Shenna Bellows 189,653 31.6% -6.9%

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by
John McKernan
Republican nominee for Governor of Maine
1994
Succeeded by
Jim Longley
Preceded by
Bill Cohen
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Maine
(Class 2)

1996, 2002, 2008, 2014
Most recent
Preceded by
Jennifer Dunn
Steve Largent
Response to the State of the Union address
2000
Served alongside: Bill Frist
Succeeded by
Tom Daschle
Dick Gephardt
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Bill Cohen
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Maine
1997–present
Served alongside: Olympia Snowe, Angus King
Incumbent
Preceded by
Joe Lieberman
Chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee
2003–2007
Succeeded by
Joe Lieberman
Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee
2007–2015
Succeeded by
Tom Carper
Preceded by
Bob Corker
Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee
2013–2015
Succeeded by
Claire McCaskill
Preceded by
Bill Nelson
Chair of the Senate Aging Committee
2015–present
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Jack Reed
United States Senators by seniority
12th
Succeeded by
Mike Enzi