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No surprise, ‘Republican’ Susan Collins wants Senate to take up Democrats’ funding bill, caves on border

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Sen. Susan Collins is not standing with the majority of her Republican colleagues and is calling for the Senate to take up a House-approved government funding bill.

The Maine Republican is in favor of accepting the bill passed last week by the newly Democratic-led House to re-open the government without providing the border wall funding President Donald Trump has been demanding. Seven Republicans voted with Democrats to pass that bill to reopen parts of the government that are not related to the debate over the wall.

Collins spoke Sunday with NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press,” saying while she understands the difficult negotiating spot Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is in, a “middle ground” has to be reached.

“Well, I can’t speak for McConnell, but I would like to see him bring the House-passed bills to the Senate floor,” Collins said. “We could reopen much of government where there’s no dispute over issues involving certain departments like [agriculture], transportation, housing, and interior. Let’s get those reopened while the negotiations continue.”

Todd naturally found a way to make the argument a personal criticism of the president, asking the senator how satisfied she is “with how the president is conducting himself in office.”

“I’m frustrated in the situation that we’ve gotten to this point where both sides appear to be intransigent,” Collins said. “It is not a sign of weakness to figure out a middle ground. I think that both sides need to indicate a willingness to listen and to compromise.”

The senator criticized using the threat of a shutdown as a political weapon and suggested appropriations bills should be passed by Congress before the end of the fiscal year to avoid shutdowns like the one that began in December when Trump and Democratic leadership reached an impasse on funding for building a wall along the southern U.S. border.

“Government shutdowns are never good policy,” Collins said.

The Maine Republican joins Colorado Senator Cory Gardner who also broke ranks with the GOP, arguing for an end to the shutdown without the $5 billion for border security requested by the White House.

“We should pass the bipartisan appropriations bills that includes money for border security while we continue to fight for more border security money,” Gardner said in a statement. “Congress needs to take further action on border security, but that work should be done when the government is fully open.”

Both senators are up for reelection in Democrat-leaning states in 2020 and could face a tough battle with voters after this stand. Collins, a four-term senator, told Todd Sunday it was “too early” to announce if she would be running for reelection.

Her remarks about moving ahead with a funding bill drew backlash on Twitter where many expressed their frustrations with the so-called Republican lawmaker.

Frieda Powers

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