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Tag: susan collins

Susan Collins Calls Cops Over Polite Sidewalk Chalk Message

How thin can one person’s skin possibly be? Sen. Susan Collins tested the limits of that question with her response to a sidewalk chalk message asking her to vote for the Women’s Health Protection Act, codifying the abortion rights of Roe v. Wade into law.

“Susie, please, Mainers want WHPA —–> vote yes, clean up your mess,” the chalk message outside Collins’ home in Bangor, Maine, read. They said please, in a medium that causes no damage, and she called the police.

“The message was not overtly threatening,” a police spokesman said. You think?

That didn’t stop Collins from talking like she was bravely maintaining her composure in the face of a grave infringement, saying, “We are grateful to the Bangor police officers and the City public works employee who responded to the defacement of public property in front of our home.”

Lia Russell of the Bangor Daily News reports, deadpan, “The sidewalk message was not visible on Monday afternoon.” Because it was chalk.

Collins’ whole victim act is a blatant ploy to distract from the fact that she got us here. Collins was part of the Republican push to pack the Supreme Court with right-wing extremists, and now that the court is on the brink of officially striking down Roe v. Wade in the harshest and most extreme way while also teeing up the evisceration of a series of other rights and protections, she wants us to be talking not about the fact that she claimed to believe Brett Kavanaugh when he told her he wouldn’t overturn Roe but about the freaking sidewalk chalk outside her house.

It would be absurd if it weren’t such a clear illustration of how Collins has been fully complicit as the Republican Party has done its level best to destroy the government and the nation. She is right there with them 99 out of 100 steps of the way, and then the media uses that one step Collins didn’t take to paint her as some kind of principled moderate. People are going to suffer and die because of votes Collins took—and ones she didn’t—and she’s trying to play the victim over a chalk “please.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Defense Contractors Indicted For Illegal Donations To Susan Collins

On Thursday, February 10, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a press release announcing that three former defense contractors based in Hawaii had been indicted on federal charges for “allegedly making unlawful campaign contributions to a candidate for Congress and a political action committee.” The candidate, according to Gizmodo’s Matt Novak, was Sen. Susan Collins of Maine — and the political action committee was hers.

All three of the men indicted — Martin Kao, Clifford Chen and Lawrence “Kahele” Lum Kee — are Honolulu residents and “are charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and to make conduit and government contractor contributions, making conduct contributions, and making government contractor contributions,” according to the DOJ’s February 10 press release.

On Thursday, February 10, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a press release announcing that three former defense contractors based in Hawaii had been indicted on federal charges for “allegedly making unlawful campaign contributions to a candidate for Congress and a political action committee.” The candidate, according to Gizmodo’s Matt Novak, was Sen. Susan Collins of Maine — and the political action committee was hers.

All three of the men indicted — Martin Kao, Clifford Chen and Lawrence “Kahele” Lum Kee — are Honolulu residents and “are charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and to make conduit and government contractor contributions, making conduct contributions, and making government contractor contributions,” according to the DOJ’s February 10 press release.

Novak notes that Kao, former CEO of Navatek, “was also charged, in late 2020, with fraudulently receiving too much money under the Paycheck Protection Program, set up in 2020 to assist private businesses at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Kao, who allegedly lied about the number of employees his company had to receive more funds, has pleaded not guilty to those charges,” Novak reports.

Collins was elected to a fifth term in the U.S. Senate when she defeated Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon by 8% in 2020. The Maine senator and moderate conservative was among the minority of Republicans who voted “guilty” in former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial in 2021.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The Trump Coup Is Ongoing -- And 'Moderate' Republicans Enable It

Some look back on the events following Donald Trump's 2020 election loss and think we dodged a bullet: There was a coup attempt, and thankfully it failed. Others believe that the whole thing has been overblown. Even as evidence piles up that the coup was far more extensive than siccing a mob on the Capitol, those two takes seem unshaken. There is another way to look at it: The coup is ongoing. With every new revelation about how extensive Trump's efforts to overturn the election were — and they are arriving on an almost daily basis — the flaccid response of Republicans makes the next coup that much more thinkable.

Trump, we now know, paged through the federal departments and agencies looking for willing insurrectionists. He explored the possibility of having the Justice Department seize voting machines in swing states (Bill Barr shot down the idea), and then considered installing Jeffrey Clark as attorney general in Barr's place (a threatened mass resignation stayed his hand). He then turned to the military and considered using his emergency powers under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to permit the Pentagon to seize voting machines and other records.

Things had gone as far as the drafting of a presidential "finding" about nonexistent fraud. Trump also tested the waters at the Department of Homeland Security, asking Rudy Giuliani to see whether the (unlawfully appointed) acting deputy secretary, Ken Cuccinelli, would seize the voting machines under that department's auspices. Cuccinelli begged off.

This comes on the heels of revelations about phony slates of electors. Eighty-four Republicans from seven states signed bogus documents claiming that Trump had won their states and sent these fake Electoral College certificates to the National Archives.

Trump was busier attempting to undo the election than he had ever been as president. He summoned the leaders of the Michigan legislature to the White House after the election to convince them to certify that their state, which voted for Biden, had voted for him. He cajoled and threatened Georgia's secretary of state to "find" 11,780 votes. He phoned local election officials to pressure them to say they found fraud, buzzed the Arizona governor repeatedly even up to the minute he was signing his state's certification, and strong-armed the vice president to, in Trump's own words, "overturn the election."

A little-noticed feature of the stories about Trump's thus-far unsuccessful efforts to stage a coup is that even among the MAGA crowd, some things were considered beyond the pale. Barr was willing to swallow a lot, but he couldn't go along with lying about imaginary vote fraud. The high-ranking lawyers at the Justice Department were Trump appointees, but they would resign en masse rather than see Clark subvert the department for plainly unlawful ends. Brad Raffensperger voted for Trump but refused to lie for him. Cuccinelli was Trump's loyal immigration hawk, but he couldn't see his way to using his Homeland Security post to confiscate voting machines and commit fraud. And though Mike Pence, pressed hard by Trump for the last full measure of devotion, wavered (he phoned former Vice President Dan Quayle for advice), in the end, he did what he knew was right.

A healthy body politic, like a healthy physical body, needs antibodies. It needs certain automatic defenses. The actions of those Republicans were the vestigial antibodies of a healthy democracy. The people who made those crucial decisions were acting out of a sense that anything less would be dishonorable and would be perceived as such by the whole society.

But would they make the same decisions today? Every single time a Republican suggests that what Trump did and attempted to do was anything less than a five-alarm fire, they are weakening our immune system.

Sen. Susan Collins was asked whether she could support Trump in 2024. She declined to rule it out.

Just think about what message that sends to the rank and file about what is beyond the pale and what isn't. If Collins might even support Trump, maybe it's not such a big deal.

On the anniversary of January 6, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sneered at what he called "nauseating" remembrances, adding that "it's an insult to people when you say it's an insurrection." Another blow to the concept that something truly awful happened that must never be repeated.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has not hesitated to appear on the John Fredericks radio show since his inauguration. Fredericks was the host of a rally in October that featured an American flag that had been carried at the "peaceful" January 6 protest. Fredericks also ladles out big helpings of election falsehood to his listeners.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has announced a new podcast, hosted by Sen. Rick Scott, to help 2022 GOP senate candidates. First scheduled guest: Donald Trump.

It was not just an attempted coup. The steady sapping of republican virtue continues.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the Beg to Differ podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Refusing To Back Abortion Rights Bill, Collins Shows True Colors At Last

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) is under mounting criticism for refusing to support a Democratic bill that would make access to abortion the law of the land, as the U.S. Supreme Court, experts believe, prepares to reverse its historic 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade.

Senator Collins, who repeatedly claims to be pro-choice, is being criticized after years of supporting then-President Donald Trump's judicial nominees at every level of the federal judiciary, including two of his three Supreme Court picks.

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GOP Senators Torpedo Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal They Endorsed

Reprinted with permission from American independent

Senate Republicans used the filibuster rule on Wednesday to block consideration of a bipartisan infrastructure deal — weeks after several of them endorsed the $579 billion package.

Every member of the Democratic Senate majority backed beginning consideration of H.R. 3684, a procedural step needed to debate and pass the bipartisan framework, but because Senate rules require a three-fifths supermajority for this type of legislation, the Republican minority was able to block it.

President Joe Biden proposed a $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan in March, asking Congress to improve the nation's transportation, water systems, broadband, clean energy, climate change, and caregiving infrastructure.

On June 16, after lengthy negotiations, a bipartisan group of senators agreedon a deal, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, to invest $579 billion in "core infrastructure" programs only, including transportation, broadband, and water systems.

Republican Sens. Richard Burr (NC), Bill Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Lindsey Graham (SC), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rob Portman (OH), Mitt Romney (UT), Mike Rounds (SD), Thom Tillis (NC), and Todd Young (IN) all signed onto a joint statement with 10 members of the Democratic majority, affirming their support for the deal.

"We support this bipartisan framework that provides an historic investment in our nation's core infrastructure needs without raising taxes," the statement read. "We look forward to working with our Republican and Democratic colleagues to develop legislation based on this framework to address America's critical infrastructure challenges."

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) endorsed the plan later that day.

On June 24, Biden signed on to the bipartisan plan and has been urging its passage since.

"We should be united on one thing: passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, which we shook hands on," he said on Monday. "We shook hands on it."

But not long after the agreement, some Republicans began to have second thoughts.

Some objected to acknowledgements by Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress that they would later try to pass some of their other priorities — including the omitted climate change, child care, and caregiving "human infrastructure" provisions — through a separate budget reconciliation process, without any GOP support. Graham complained that this plan amounted to extortion.

They then abandoned one of the key provisions that financed the bipartisan agreement: a crackdown on wealthy tax dodgers who are not currently paying their fair share. Portman said Sunday that they had dropped the provision due to "pushback" from Republican senators who did not want to give more money to the understaffed Internal Revenue Service to enforce the tax code.

Again, Graham protested the deal he'd backed, telling Axios on June 30, "There's some people on our side who don't like empowering the IRS; I don't mind empowering the IRS if it's a reasonable thing to do. But I mean, how much uncollected taxes can you gather with $40 billion?"

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer moved to bring up the framework on Wednesday as a way to speed up the bill writing process. "I understand that both sides are working very hard to turn the bipartisan infrastructure framework into final legislation, and they will continue to have more time to debate, amend and perfect the bill once the Senate votes to take up this crucial issue," the New York Democrat explained to colleagues on Monday. "But they have been working on this bipartisan framework for more than a month already, and it's time to begin the debate."

Republicans said they were not ready to move forward.

Senate Republican Whip John Thune — who memorably ran for his seat in 2004 by lambasting the Democratic incumbent for using his position "to slow down, to obstruct, to stop" then-President George W. Bush's agenda — opposed even beginning debate on the bipartisan infrastructure framework. "I can't say we will have every Republican, but he [Schumer] is not going to get 60," he vowed Monday.

On Wednesday, all of the 11 Republican backers who supported the bipartisan deal previously — along with the rest of the Republican minority — voted against debate on the matter.

Schumer voted "no" as well, for procedural reasons.

"At the end of the vote, I changed my response [from a yes] to a no so that I may move to reconsider this vote at a future time," the majority leader explained, moments after the vote failed, 49 to 51.

Due to Schumer's last-second maneuver, the Senate is still able to reconsider the vote in the future. Alternately, the Democratic majority could simply add the provisions to a budget reconciliation package and pass it with a simple majority, if they can remain united.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Infrastructure Deal Hinges On Additional Climate And Social Spending

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

UPDATE: President Joe Biden hosted the bipartisan Senate group at the White House to confirm the infrastructure deal on Thursday afternoon. "Neither side got everything they wanted in this deal," Biden said. "That's what it means to compromise, and it reflects something important, reflects consensus. The heart of democracy requires consensus." He also said the deal is "in tandem" with an additional bill funding clean energy and human infrastructure programs, to be passed solely by Democrats under budget reconciliation rules -- and that he won't sign one without the other.

A bipartisan group of 10 senators said it had reached a tentative deal with the White House on an infrastructure plan. But while their verbal agreement includes hundreds of billions of dollars in new investment in transportation and water infrastructure, several Democrats are saying they will only support it if it is paired with investments in omitted infrastructure priorities such as climate and caregiving.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) announced on Wednesday, "Republicans and Democrats have come together, along with the White House, and we've agreed on a framework and we're gonna be heading to the White House tomorrow."

"We have a framework and we are going to the White House tomorrow," said Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

The group also includes Republicans Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Rob Portman (OH), as well as Democrats Joe Manchin (WV), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Jon Tester (MT), and Mark Warner (VA).

In a statement released by the White House, press secretary Jen Psaki said, "White House senior staff had two productive meetings today with the bipartisan group of Senators who have been negotiating about infrastructure. The group made progress towards an outline of a potential agreement, and the President has invited the group to come to the White House tomorrow to discuss this in person."

According to Axios, the plan would call for either $974 billion in infrastructure spending over the next five years or $1.2 trillion over the next eight. About $559 billion of that would be new spending, $20 billion less than was included in the group's earlier proposal.

The senators have not yet announced how it would be funded but claim it is fully paid for.

In March, Biden proposed the $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan, which would significantly boost investment in roads, bridges, water systems, clean energy, broadband, transit, climate, child care, and caregiving infrastructure. Congressional Republicans unanimously opposed the plan, with many complaining that only roads and bridges really count as infrastructure.

The bipartisan group's plan omits virtually all funding for clean energy, climate, child care, and caregiving infrastructure.

The package would require a three-fifths supermajority in the Senate and a majority in the House. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) suggested on Thursday evening that most Democrats have not yet signed off on the plan. "My sense is that deal right now has 20 votes, not 60 votes. We are going to have to take a deep dive into the agreement they have reached, and, you know, square it with the needs of our voters," he told CNN's Anderson Cooper.

Several of his colleagues have objected to the lack of clean energy and climate investment in the proposal and have said they will only agree to back it if enough Democrats agree to address caregiving and the environment in a separate package that could be passed through budget reconciliation without any GOP support.

Such a deal would likely also include investments in health care, paid leave, child care, pre-K programs, and other priorities included in Biden's original $1.9 trillion American Families Plan.

"We have made our position clear, that the possibility of a bipartisan deal depends on a commitment to move forward on reconciliation," Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) told Politico on Tuesday.

"One can't be done without the other," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters on Wednesday. "We can't get the bipartisan bill done unless we're sure of getting the budget reconciliation bill done. We can't get the budget reconciliation bill done unless we're sure to get the bipartisan — and I think our members, across the spectrum, realize that."

"No climate, no deal," vowed Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) on June 9.

The need for investment in both transportation and climate infrastructure was illustrated this week by major news stories across the country.

In Washington, D.C., a pedestrian bridge collapsed on Wednesday onto an interstate highway. Several people were injured.

On the West Coast, climate change has fueled massive heatwaves and drought.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Progressive Democrats Set Conditions For Infrastructure ‘Compromise’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Democratic leaders are reportedly mulling accepting a bipartisan compromise infrastructure plan as long as the Democratic senators working with Republicans on the plan agree to another massive investment package later that would include the care giving and climate infrastructure investments.

According to Politico, they are open to passing a compromise bill with $579 billion in new investment in transportation, broadband, and water system infrastructure being shopped by a group of five Democrats and five Republicans. But they would only do so if they got assurances from those Democrats that they will later support passing more spending through the budget reconciliation process, which would not require any GOP support.

On CNN on Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed a similar sentiment: "We must build back better. So if this is something that can be agreed upon, I don't know how we can possibly sell it to our caucus unless we know there is more to come."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said last week, "We all know as a caucus, we will not be able to do all the things that the country needs in a totally bipartisan way. But we're not going to sacrifice the bigness and boldness in this bill. We will just pursue two paths and at some point they will join."

President Joe Biden initially proposed a $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan that would invest in transportation, water systems, broadband, climate change, clean energy, child care, and caregiving infrastructure. He also asked Congress to pass a $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, which would provide free community college and expand access to affordable child and health care.

Republicans have objected to both plans, calling them "socialism," not really infrastructure, and too expensive. They also unanimously opposed his proposals to pay for the investment by keeping his campaign promises to raise taxes on corporations and those making $400,000 and up.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), one of the 10 senators pushing the compromise package, said Sunday that the bipartisan infrastructure plan would contain no tax increases and would be funded mostly by repurposing unspent pandemic relief funds and charging new fees to drivers of electric cars.

Two of the most conservative members of the Senate Democratic caucus are also part of the bipartisan group: Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Both have refused the go-it-alone Democratic strategy in the narrowly divided chamber, pushing to work with Republicans.

Several other Democrats have spoken out against accepting a plan like theirs that does not include investment to address climate change.

"No climate, no deal," warned Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey on June 9.

With "nothing on climate change," said Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden the next day, the package would be "a complete nonstarter."

But if the conservative Democrats promised to support a subsequent bill that included vital investments that were excluded from the infrastructure package, those concerns could be assuaged.

"There would have to be clarity that we're getting the second package. Manchin and Sinema are going to have to give assurances to [Senate Budget Committee Chair] Bernie [Sanders]," an unnamed Democratic source told Politico.

For that to happen, however, at least 10 Republicans would have to agree to the infrastructure proposal. So far, only Sens. Bill Cassidy (LA), Collins, Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rob Portman (OH), and Mitt Romney (UT) have endorsed it.

If that does not come about, the Democrats could pass the entire plan without a single GOP vote using the Senate's budget reconciliation rules if all of them were to vote in favor.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Romney’s ‘Deal’ Would Tax Working Families, Not Corporations

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A new infrastructure plan being pushed by Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and a bipartisan group of senators would not increase corporate taxes at all. Instead, it would raise taxes on every American who buys gasoline — running afoul of the president's promise not to raise taxes on working families.

The group of 10 senators said Thursday they had agreed on a blueprint for $579 billion in new spending on transportation and broadband infrastructure. It would reportedly not include any immediate tax increases but would index the gas tax to inflation, meaning consumers would likely pay more each year.

Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rob Portman (R-OH), Romney, Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Mark Warner (D-VA) called their plan a "realistic, compromise framework to modernize our nation's infrastructure and energy technologies" in a joint statement.

This plan is a bit more new spending than was offered by a GOP-only group — led by West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito — which failed to reach an agreement after lengthy negotiations with President Joe Biden.

After initially proposing just $189 billion in new investment above the existing baseline spending (adjusted for inflation), her group would go no higher than $330 billion.

But this proposal is still way less than Biden requested in his American Jobs Plan. He initially proposed $2.25 trillion in new spending on transportation, water systems, broadband, caregiving, child care, climate, and clean energy infrastructure, funded by increased taxes on corporations. Biden's package enjoys widespread popular support, with 68% of American adults backing it in a late April Monmouth University poll.

In late May, Biden offered to bring the total down to $1.7 trillion. Still, not a single congressional Republican has indicated support.

Biden ran on a campaign promise not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 annually. GOP lawmakers, who oppose raising taxes on the rich and businesses, have instead urged an increased gasoline tax.

But the White House has reportedly objected to this idea, noting that it would raise little new revenue and would violate Biden's promise.

Most Americans back the idea of funding infrastructure investments with more corporate taxes. The same April Monmouth University poll found 64 percent for the idea.

Even Rep. Don Young (R-AK), the longest-tenured member of Congress, included a four percent increase in the corporate tax rate in his own infrastructure proposal on Thursday.

Because many people who make under $400,000 a year drive cars, the gas tax increase would put much of the burden on lower- and middle-income Americans.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who caucuses with the Democrats and chairs the Budget Committee, opposed the idea last month.

"Unbelievable but true: The same Republicans who voted for trillions in tax breaks for the top 1% and large corporations," he tweeted on May 15, "now want to increase taxes on working families through user fees, more toll roads and higher gas taxes while cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."

Even the right-wing Americans for Prosperity has been critical of indexing the gas tax to inflation.

Michael Lambert, a policy analyst for the dark money group, wrote in the Hill last year that such a proposal is "a tax hike on workers and families" and that "raising the already regressive gas tax would disproportionately hurt those who can least afford it."

Unlike Biden's proposal, the senators' counterproposal would do little to address the climate change crisis. Last week, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached its highest monthly average in recorded history — a huge threat to the climate.

Some Democratic senators are pushing back.

"No climate, no deal," warned Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts on Wednesday.

Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse complained on Monday that "Climate has fallen out of the infrastructure discussion, as it took its bipartisanship detour. It may not return."

On Thursday, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon — chair of the Senate Finance Committee — told MSNBC that because the Romney group's proposal includes "nothing on climate change" and no corporate tax increase, it is "a complete nonstarter" and the White House "won't accept it."

He said it is time for Democrats to pass Biden's plan through budget reconciliation, a budget process that would let the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate enact a plan without a single GOP vote — if they stay united.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.