The next administration faces the large task of rebuilding the U.S. economy, developing a comprehensive energy policy and reining in health care costs. This work depends on lawmakers with differing views and philosophies coming together. Sen. Susan Collins will be instrumental in bridging partisan divides and moving needed legislation forward. That is why Maine voters should elect her to a third term in the U.S. Senate.
Sen. Collins has been at the center of congressional debate and policymaking on all the major issues in recent years. Currently, she is one of 20 senators – 10 from each party – working to develop an energy policy that recognizes the United States must use less while developing new sources and looking for additional domestic supply. Their efforts so far have been stymied by election year partisan positioning. But their work will provide a sound foundation for the new administration and Congress to build on.
Previously, Sen. Collins was instrumental in remaking the Federal Emergency Management Agency after its disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina, reforming the intelligence agencies after the U.S. invaded Iraq based on dubious information and creating a new Homeland Security Department to deal more proactively with the continuing terrorist threat.
She fought the Bush administration to keep the watchdog agency in Iraq – the Special Inspector General for Iraq – operational when it tried to shut it down. Her legislation to change the U.S. mission in Iraq, with an emphasis on redeploying American troops so they could begin to come home in significant numbers, changed the debate over Iraq policy in the Senate. Her legislation to shift more of the burden, especially financially, to the Iraqis was recently enacted.
She has increased funding for home health care, hospice care and diabetes treatment and research – the disease consumes a quarter of Medicare funding and affects more than 23 million Americans.
She has helped secure more than $100 million in funding for research and development in Maine, much of it for the University of Maine. These funds support work on new sources of energy, climate change, biomedicine and other areas that are critical to the health, security and financial strength of Maine and the United States. In addition, such research has spun off new businesses in Maine that employ college graduates that otherwise would have left the state to further their careers.
All of this came about only because Sen. Collins has a long record of working successfully with Democrats to reach the compromises that are necessary to pass legislation. Many of these changes are slow and incremental, but that is the nature of lawmaking.
Sen. Collins, rated one of the least partisan members of the Senate, is not afraid to stand up to her party leadership. She voted against the last three budgets submitted by the Bush administration because she did not believe they aligned with Maine’s priorities and needs. She voted to override the president’s misplaced veto of funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. She has long advocated for stricter controls on pollution and higher automobile fuel economy standards in the face of strong opposition from the White House and many Republicans.
Tom Allen, who, like Sen. Collins, has served in Congress for 12 years, has no shortage of big ideas, especially with regard to health care. However, his resume is short on legislation fulfilling these ideas.
Sen. Collins’ success shows that diligence, persistence and a centrist approach are necessary and valued. Such qualities will be needed even more over the next six years. That’s why Maine voters would be wise to re-elect Sen. Collins on Nov. 4.