Susan Collins

Susan Margaret Collins (born December 7, 1952) is an American politician serving as the senior United States Senator for Maine. A Republican, Collins has represented Maine 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 67)
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 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 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 United States Senate in 1996. She was reelected 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 the most senior Republican woman in the Senate, the dean of Maine's congressional delegation, and the only New England Republican in the 116th Congress.[3] Collins is described as one of the more moderate Republicans in the Senate and therefore often a pivotal vote.[4][5]

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.[6] Her parents, Patricia (née McGuigan) and Donald F. Collins (1925–2018), each served as mayor of Caribou.[6] Her father, a decorated World War II vet, also served in the Maine Legislature (one term in The House and four in the Senate).[7][8] Her mother was born in Barrancabermeja, Colombia, to American parents.[9] 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.[10]

Collins attended Caribou High School, where she was president of the student council.[11] 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.[11] After graduating from Caribou High School, she continued her education at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York.[12] 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.[13]

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.[12] 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).[12]

In 1987, Collins joined the cabinet of Governor John R. McKernan Jr., as Commissioner of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation.[13] She was appointed the New England regional director for the Small Business Administration by President George H. W. Bush in 1992.[8] 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.[12]

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.[8] 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.[14]

In December 1994, Collins became the founding executive director of the Center for Family Business at Husson College.[13] 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 49% to 44%.[15][16]

U.S. SenateEdit

ElectionsEdit

 
Collins with President Barack Obama

Collins was elected to the United States Senate in the 1996 senate election. During the campaign she pledged that, if elected, she would "only serve two terms."[17]

She was reelected in 2002 over State Senator Chellie Pingree (D), 58%–42%, again in 2008 over Rep. Tom Allen (D), 61.5%–38.5%, and again in 2014 over Shenna Bellows (D), 68.5%–31.5%. In all three reelection campaigns, she carried every county in Maine.[18]

In 2009, Collins was described as one of "the last survivors of a once common species of moderate Northeastern Republican."[10] She is considered a centrist member of the Republican Party, and an influential player in the U.S. Senate.[19][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 shared a centrist ideology with Maine's former senator, Olympia Snowe, Collins is considered a "half-turn more conservative" than Snowe.[10] 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.[23]

TenureEdit

First termEdit

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.[24]

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".[25]

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 alternative 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."[26]

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.[27]

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.[28]

Second termEdit

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 Director of National Intelligence 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."[29] President Bush signed Collins' bill, formally known as the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, on December 17, 2004.[30]

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).[31][32]

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.[33]

Third termEdit

In the spring of 2009, Susan Collins was criticized for blocking pandemic flu funding during the swine flu pandemic. Collins stated that she had blocked the funding on procedural grounds, stating that the funding did not belong in a stimulus bill because "while worthwhile, [it does] not boost our economy", and that "it does not make sense to include $870 million for pandemic flu preparedness."[34] Her actions later gained further criticism and scrutiny during the COVID-19 pandemic.[35]

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."[36]

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.[37]

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.[38] The filibuster on Hagel's nomination was defeated,[39] and he was confirmed later that month.[40]

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."[41]

On March 26, 2014, Elle Magazine honored Collins as "one of the ten most powerful Women in Washington Power List".[42]

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 two years.[43] 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.[44][45][46] Collins tried to negotiate a compromise bill that centrist Republicans could agree to but was unable to do so.[46]

Fourth termEdit

Collins cast her 6,000th consecutive roll call vote on September 17, 2015.[47] Only William Proxmire has a longer consecutive streak.[48]

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.[49] In July 2018, Morning Consult showed Collins with a 56% approval rating, with 34% disapproving.[50] 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.[51] In January 2019, a Morning Consult poll showed her approval rating to be back up at 53% with 38% disapproving.[52] 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.[53]

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."[54]

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 for 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,[55] 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.[56]

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."[57] She considered voting for the Libertarian Party's ticket or a write-in candidate.[58][59]

In the 2016 United States presidential election, Collins received one electoral vote for vice president from a faithless elector in Washington.[60]

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".[61][62][63] Later, Collins and Murkowski became the only Republicans to break party lines and vote against the nominee.[64][65] This caused a 50–50 tie that was broken by Senate President Mike Pence to successfully confirm DeVos' appointment.[66]

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.[67] Collins announced she would vote against the Senate version of the Republican bill to repeal Obamacare.[68] Collins has also clarified that she is against repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement proposal.[69] On July 26, Collins was one of seven Republicans in voting against repealing the ACA without a suitable replacement.[70] On July 27 the following day, Collins joined two other Republicans in voting 'No' to the 'Skinny' repeal of the ACA.[71] 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".[72]

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 to allow for public hearings on the merits of repealing net neutrality.[73] Collins and King expressed concerns that repealing net neutrality could adversely affect the US economy.[73] 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.[74] In 2018, Collins was one of three Republicans voting with Democrats to repeal rule changes enacted by the Republican-controlled FCC.[75] The measure was meant to restore Obama-era net neutrality rules.[76]

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).[77][78]

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.[79] 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."[80]

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 to Alzheimer's. The bill would authorize $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. It passed in the Senate and House and was signed by President Trump in January 2019.[81]

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.[82][83]

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[84] and introduced the Reviving America's Scenic Byways Act of 2019 along with Ben Cardin. The bill required the American Secretary of Transportation to request nominations and make determinations in regards to roads that would be designed under a voluntary, community-based program and was signed into law by President Trump in September of that year.[85] 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.[86] 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.[87]

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.[88]

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.[89]

Committee assignmentsEdit

Caucus membershipsEdit

Political positionsEdit

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

Collins has been known as a moderate Republican, having voted with her party 59% of the time from 1997 to 2016. She voted with her party more frequently, about 87% of the time, in 2017.[91][92][93]

In 2013, Collins sided with President Obama's position 75.9% of the time, one of only two Republicans to vote with him more than 70% of the time.[94] As of April 2020, Collins had voted with President Trump's positions about 67% of the time,[95] and she has voted with the Republican majority on party-line votes with much greater frequency during the Trump presidency than during the Obama presidency.[91]

Collins voted to acquit Trump of all charges at his impeachment trial.[96] Collins explained her vote, saying that she did not think Trump's request of the Ukrainian President to announce an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden met the "high bar" for "removing a duly elected president."[97] Collins said that Trump had "learned from this case" and that "he will be much more cautious in the future."[97] Shortly after his acquittal, Trump fired witnesses in the impeachment inquiry.[98][99] In the following months, Trump fired inspectors general of the State Department and the intelligence community. Collins criticized the firing, provoking a retaliatory response from Trump.[100]

AbortionEdit

Collins is one of three current Republican U.S. Senators, along with Shelley Moore Capito and Lisa Murkowski, to describe themselves as pro-choice, or pro-abortion rights, and to publicly support Roe v. Wade.[101][102][103][104] According to NARAL Pro-Choice America and Democratic super PAC American Bridge 21st Century, Collins "has supported over 90% of Trump's picks for federal judge positions, including 32 nominees who have indicated they oppose abortion rights." Collins has defended her votes to support these nominees by citing her support for both of President Obama's Supreme Court appointments.[105] Collins voted in favor of the confirmation of Trump's second Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, stating that she did not believe he would overturn Roe.[106][107] She said she felt "vindication" in 2018 when Kavanaugh voted with the court's four Democratic appointed justices, and Chief Justice John Roberts, not to hear cases against Planned Parenthood (PP) from Kansas and Louisiana, leaving the rulings in favor of PP in place (PP disagreed with her assessment),[108][109] but Collins faced renewed criticism in 2020 over her vote when Kavanaugh voted to allow states to severely reduce the access to and availability of abortion in his dissent from June Medical Services LLC v Russo.[110][111]

EconomyEdit

In 2004, she expressed concerns about how the Bush administration wanted to implement its proposed plan to cut taxes.[112] She cited deficit concerns as a reason for opposing the tax cut plans,[112] but ultimately voted in favor of the Bush tax cuts in 2003 and again for its extension in 2006.[113][114][115] Collins was one of just three Republican lawmakers to vote for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,[116] 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.[117] The bill would greatly reduce corporate taxes, reduce taxes for some individuals but increase them for other individuals by removing some popular deductions.[117] 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.[118][119] 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.[119] 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,[120][117] but Hubbard and Holtz-Eakin later denied stating that the plan would not increase the deficit.[121][122]

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.[123] 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.[124] She was also the only Republican to vote against confirmation of Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.[125]

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."[126]

Foreign policy and national securityEdit

In 2003, Collins voted in favor of the Iraq War Resolution authorizing President George W. Bush to go to war against Iraq.[127] 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 a 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.[128] 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.[129] 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 airstrikes were effective.[130]

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.[131] In 2010, she called for the removal of Arnold Fields 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."[132] 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."[133]

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 authorize the Commerce Department to 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.[134] 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."[135]

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.[136] She announced her opposition to the Iran nuclear agreement later that year, saying it 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 Iran "will be a more dangerous and stronger nuclear threshold state" following the agreement's expiration.[137] In June 2019, after the United States nearly launched an airstrike 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 that miscalculations by either side "could lead to a war in the Middle East".[138]

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,[139] 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.[140]

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.[141] 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.[142] 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.[143] 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.[144]

In May 2020, she voted to confirm U.S. Representative John Ratcliffe as the Director of National Intelligence. Ratcliffe was a Trump ally who had little experience in national security or national intelligence and who had embellished his prosecutorial experience in terrorism and immigration cases. Previously, in 2019, there was bipartisan opposition to Ratcliffe's nomination. The Washington Post described Collins's support for Ratcliffe as "key" to his 2020 confirmation.[145]

Gun policyEdit

Collins voted for the ManchinToomey bill to amend federal law to expand background checks for gun purchases.[146] She did vote against a ban of high-capacity magazines over 10 bullets.[147] She has received a C+ grade on gun rights from the NRA, and D- from Gun Owners of America.[148] In 2018, Collins was a cosponsor of the NICS Denial Notification Act,[149] 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.[150] 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.[151]

Health careEdit

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.[152]

Collins voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in September 2017.[153] Later that year, she voted with Republican senators to repeal the individual mandate of the ACA.[154] The absence of the individual mandate weakened the legal stability of the Affordable Care Act, leading the Trump administration in 2020 to seek to have the entirety of the ACA ruled unconstitutional by the courts (in a narrow 5-4 decision in the Supreme Court in 2012, Chief Justice Roberts upheld the constitutionality of the ACA by citing the presence of the individual mandate in the legislation).[155][156]

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."[157]

In April 2019, Collins cosponsored the Protecting Jessica Grubb's Legacy Act, legislation that authorized the sharing of the medical records of patients being treated for substance use disorder among healthcare providers if 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.[158]

ImmigrationEdit

In 2007, she voted against the bipartisan McCain-Kennedy comprehensive immigration reform proposal which would have given undocumented immigrants (including those brought into the United States as minors) a pathway to citizenship if they met certain requirements, while also substantially increasing border enforcement.[159] In 2010, Collins voted against the DREAM Act.[160] 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.[161] 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,[162] 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."[163] In 2019, she introduced bipartisan legislation to oppose Trump's declaration emergency at the southern border in order to build a wall.[164] She was one of a dozen Republicans who broke with their party, joining all Democrats, to vote for the resolution rejecting the emergency declaration.[165] In September 2019, she again voted with 10 other Republicans to overturn Trump's emergency declaration on the border.[166]

LGBTQ policyEdit

In 2004, Collins was one of six Republicans who voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution, which would ban same-sex marriage throughout the country.[167] 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.[168][169][170][171][172] 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.[173] The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which rates politicians' support for LGBT issues, gave Collins a score of 85% during the 114th Congress.[174] She received a score of 33% during the 115th Congress.[175] In 2020, the HRC endorsed an opponent of Susan Collins for the first time since her 1996 election citing her votes for judicial nominees, particularly Brett Kavanaugh, opposed by the HRC.[176][177]

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."[178] 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.[179][180][181] In 2019, Collins was the only Republican senator who co-sponsored the Equality Act, which aims to comprehensively prohibit any LGBT discrimination.[182]

Honors and awardsEdit

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".[183]

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.[184]

On February 24, 2014, Collins received the "Thought Leader Award" from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for supporting public media.[185]

On May 7, 2014, National Journal recognized Collins as the senator with "perfect attendance", noting that Collins had not missed a single vote since her election to the Senate in 1997.[186]

Collins was a recipient of the Publius Award from the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress on March 12, 2014.[187]

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.[188]

ScholasticEdit

Honorary degreesEdit

Honorary degrees
Location Date School Degree Gave Commencement Address
  Maine 1997 Husson University Doctor of Public Service [189] [190] No
  Maine 1999 University of New England Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [191] Yes
  Maine 2007 Maine Maritime Academy Doctorate [192] [193] Yes
  Maine 13 Septeber 2014 Colby College Doctorate [194] [195] No
  Maine 9 May 2015 University of Maine at Augusta Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL) [196] Yes
  Vermont 29 May 2016 Middlebury College Doctorate [197] No
  New York 21 May 2017 St. Lawrence University Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL) [198] Yes [199]
  Maine 28 May 2017 Bates College Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL) [200] [201] No [202]

Personal lifeEdit

Collins is married to Thomas Daffron, a lobbyist at Jefferson Consulting Group in Washington, D.C. They were married on August 11, 2012, at the Gray Memorial United Methodist Church in Caribou, Maine.[203][204] She is Roman Catholic.[205]

Electoral historyEdit

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, 2020
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